Birth narratives have been found to provide women with the most accessible and often utilised means for giving voice to their exploration of meaning in their births. The stories women tell of their birth come out of their pre- and post-experience bodies, reproducing society through the sharing of cultural meanings. I recruited a selection of 20 birth stories from a popular 'mums' Internet forum in the United Kingdom. Using structural and thematic analyses, I set out to explore how women tell the story of their body in childbirth. This project has contributed evidence to the discussion of women's experiences of subjectivity in the discursive landscape of birth, while uncovering previously unacknowledged sites of resistance. The linguistic restrictions, sustained by the neoliberal control mechanisms on society and the self, act to shape the reality, feelings, and expressions of birthing women. Naming these silencing strategies, as I have done through the findings of this project, and celebrating women's discourse on birth, as the explosion of birth stories across the Internet are doing, offer bold moves to challenge the muting status quo of women in birth. Reclaiming women's language for birth and working to create a new vocabulary encapsulating the experiences of birthing women will also present opportunities for the issue of birth and women's experiences of it to occupy greater political space with a confident and decisive voice.
Health (London, England : 1997)
Oxford University, UK.