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Table 1 Key features of medical and midwifery models of childbirth

From: An exploration of influences on women’s birthplace decision-making in New Zealand: a mixed methods prospective cohort within the Evaluating Maternity Units study

Medical/technocratic model

Midwifery/holistic/social model

Doctor centred

Woman centred

Obstetrics: experts in pathology

Midwifery: experts in normal physiology

Body-mind dualism; classifying, separating

Holistic; integrating approach

Pregnancy is a medical condition, inherently pathological

Pregnancy is a normal human state, inherently healthy

Birth is only normal in retrospect and requires hospitalisation and medical supervision

Birth is normal physiological, social & cultural process with environment key

Technology dominant

Technology cautious

Risk selection is not possible, but risk is central

Risk selection is possible & appropriate

Statistical/biological approach

Individual/psycho-social approach

Biomedical focus

Psycho-social focus

Medical knowledge is privileged & exclusionary

Experiential & emotional knowledge valued



Outcome: aims at live, healthy mother and baby.

Outcome: aims at live, healthy mother and baby and satisfaction of individual needs of mother/couple.

  1. Sources: An interpretation based on Bryers & van Teijlingen [24], van Teijlingen [25], Rooks [28] and Davis-Floyd [26].