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Narrat Inq Bioeth. 2017;7(3):221-224. doi: 10.1353/nib.2017.0069.

Of Pain and Childbirth.

Abstract

Childbirth is often understood as a paradigmatically "happy" event where good outcomes are expected and the process anticipated as a reason for celebration. Yet the narratives in this volume reflect sadness and grief, even when a healthy child is born. In this essay, I interrogate the genesis of and our relationship to grief in birth. To the extent such grief is a product of the chasm between the imagined ideal and what women experience, we may redress such grief by orienting around a more robust and woman-centered notion of the "good birth". Yet there is a way in which grief is also intrinsic to birth, and turning away from the loss that birth by its nature entails may compound the suffering of childbearing women. Beginning with the observation that the one narrative in which grief is accepted and attended to-a full term stillbirth-also stands out for the exemplary care provided, I consider the possibility that making space for grief in births, including those with good outcomes, will lead us to better ways of thinking about birth and providing care for childbearing women.

PMID:
29249715
DOI:
10.1353/nib.2017.0069
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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