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Women Give Birth and Pizzas Are Delivered: Language and Western Childbirth Paradigms


  • Lauren P. Hunter CNM, PhD

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    • Lauren P. Hunter, CNM, PhD, is the Director of Graduate Nurse-Midwifery Education and an Assistant Professor at San Diego State University, San Diego, California.


This article examines two differing health paradigms, their language, and their effect on the culture of Western childbirth practices. Specifically, the differences in perspectives and language between the dominant paradigm/culture (the biomedical model of curing) and the alternative paradigm/culture (a holistic model of caring) are explored. Examples of language from the medical, midwifery, and nursing literature that affect childbirth culture and the care of childbearing women and their families are examined. The use of language as a tool of power and its known and postulated effects on the childbirth experience, nursing care, midwifery practice, and holistic care are explored. The author argues for the use of a woman-centered paradigm for childbirth experiences.