Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Midwifery Practice and the Concept of Normality

UM LEVEL 05 - Postgraduate Modular Diploma or Degree Course




DESCRIPTION This study-unit will contest the normality of childbirth, its evidence and debate. It will explore the wider range of normal childbirth that is unique to individual mothers and babies, whilst challenging the assumptions underpinning current beliefs and attitudes around this controversial area of childbirth. It will address the midwife's professional responsibilities in developing expertise in skills, based on professional, legal, ethical and employment responsibility and accountability.

Such issues will explore in-depth ways of seeing the concept of normality in normal birth, the empowerment of women, birth and spirituality. Other issues analyse the aspects of normality from women’s stories, to midwives' practices and the reconstruction of 'normal birth'. Finally, the debate on risk and safety in maternity care practices and discourse are addressed against weighing the evidence of promoting normal birth.

Study-unit Aims:

The study-unit aims to explore implications of the new way of seeing normal birth; to explore the controversial issues of risk and choice in maternity care; how risk is perceived and analyzed; how choices are made and how tensions are resolved when there is disagreement between professionals and parents; to understand the theoretical underpinnings of effective leadership, expertise and collaborative ways of working within a maternity care setting.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- Recognise the value and the need to build alliances between health professionals working in maternity care settings and the childbearing women, partners and their families;
- Be familiar with the major impact about the change needs within maternity care locally and overseas;
- Demonstrate sound knowledge of the nature of birth and the debate of normal birth versus the process of hospitalisation and medical intervention; and
- Be knowledgeable about the evidence promoted in the media and the predominant concerns of society at large with regards to childbirth.

2. Skills
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- Develop expertise in skills, based on professional, legal, ethical and employment responsibility and accountability;
- Develop and support skills in maximising physiological birth as a strategy to decrease unnecessary intervention, questioning the practices and definitions of 'normalcy of birth';
- Enhance his/her skills and commitment to supporting women and families; and
- Appreciate the need to align collaborative relationships between professionals and lay groups who support childbearing women.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Main Texts:

- Chenery-Morris, S., McLean, M. (2012) Normal Midwifery Practice. London: Sage Publications.
- Spiby, H., Munro, J. (2009) Evidence Based Midwifery: Applications in Context. Hoboken: Wiley.

Supplementary Readings:

- Downe, S., Byrom, S. (2020) Squaring the Circle: Normal Birth Research, theory and practice in a technological age. ISBN: 1780664400.
- Muscat, H., Passmore, H. Chenery-Morris, S. (2015). Contexts of Midwifery Practice. ISBN: 1446295362.

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecture, Ind Study, Seminar & Group Learning

Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Sept. Asst Session Weighting
Presentation SEM1 Yes 40%
Case Study (Take Home) SEM1 Yes 60%

LECTURER/S Monique Abela
Rebecca Mizzi
Rita Pace Parascandalo
Georgette Spiteri


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The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2023/4. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.