All cultures are concerned with the business of childbirth, so much so that it can never be described as a purely physiological or even psychological event. This volume draws together work from a range of anthropologists and midwives who have found anthropological approaches useful in their work. Using case studies from a variety of cultural settings, the writers explore the centrality of the way time is conceptualized, marked and measured to the ways of perceiving and managing childbirth: how women, midwives and other birth attendants are affected by issues of power and control, but also actively attempt to change established forms of thinking and practice. The stories are engaging as well as critical and invite the reader to think afresh about time, and about reproduction.
Christine McCourt studied for her degree and doctorate in social anthropology at the London School of Economics. Her doctoral work, an ethnographic study of the closure of a long-stay psychiatric hospital, was explicitly intended to be 'applied anthropology'. From 2006 to 2010 she was Professor of Anthropology and Health, at Thames Valley University and she is now Professor of Maternal and Child Health at City University London. Her research and teaching is mainly focused on culture and organisation of biomedicine, maternal and infant care, and social and cultural issues affecting women's health.
List of Figures Foreword Ronnie Frankenberg Acknowledgements Introduction PART I: HISTORICAL AND CULTURAL CONTEXT Chapter 1. From Tradition to Modernity: Time and Childbirth in Historical Perspective Christine McCourt and Fiona Dykes Chapter 2. Cosmologies, Concepts and Theories: Time and Childbirth in Cross-cultural Perspective Christine McCourt PART II: TIME AND CHILDBIRTH PRACTICES Chapter 3. Counting Time in Pregnancy and Labour Soo Downe and Fiona Dykes Chapter 4. The Progress of Labour: Orderly Chaos? Clare Winter and Margie Duff Chapter 5. Time and Midwifery Practice Trudy Stevens Chapter 6. "Waiting on Birth": Management of Time and Place in a Birth Centre Denis Walsh Chapter 7. Management of Time in Aboriginal and Northern Midwifery Settings Gisela Becker PART III: TIME AND CHILDBIRTH EXPERIENCES Chapter 8. Narrative Time: Stories, Childbirth and Midwifery Oloef Olafsdottir and Mavis Kirkham Chapter 9. How Long Have I Got? Time in Labour: Themes from Women's Birth Stories Christine McCourt Chapter 10. "Feeding All the Time": Women's Temporal Dilemmas around Breastfeeding in Hospital Fiona Dykes Chapter 11. Living with "Uncertainty": Women's Experience of Breastfeeding in the Current Japanese Social Context Naoko Hashimoto Conclusion Notes on Contributors Index