The Midwifery Model of Care: Structural Support for Diversity in Health Care

By Rachel Ariss and Nadya Burton.

Published by The International Journal of Organizational Diversity

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The current practice of midwifery in Ontario grew from a largely white, middle-class, educated, family-oriented women’s movement to a publicly-funded and regulated health profession between the early 1970s and the early 1990s. Access to midwifery has increased with funding and with growing numbers of midwives, as has the diversity of women accessing midwifery care. This paper arises from a larger project in which we interviewed midwives about their social change work, and in particular their thoughts on diversity. Our interest focuses on both the ways in which access to the profession by more diverse social groups can be supported and the ways in which respecting and honouring diversity can be further enhanced within the profession. Here we reflect on the three tenets of the midwifery model of care (informed choice, continuity of care and choice of birthplace) and how they have the potential to provide important structural support for engaging with and enhancing diversity within midwifery care.

Keywords: Diversity, Midwifery, Health Care

The International Journal of Organizational Diversity, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp.15-23. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 357.210KB).

Dr. Rachel Ariss

Assistant Professor, Legal Studies Program, UOIT, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Dr. Rachel Ariss is an Assistant Professor in Legal Studies at University of Ontario Institute of Technology. Dr. Ariss has a keen interest in the relationships between law and social change, and how law shapes (and misshapes) community. These interests manifest in research on midwifery and social change in Ontario, Aboriginal land rights and mining, and legal parentage and gestational surrogacy. Her research comes from a social justice and feminist perspective. She earned an SJD from the University of Toronto in 2002.

Dr. Nadya Burton

Assistant Professor, Midwifery Education Program, Ryerson University, Toronto, ON, Canada

Dr. Nadya Burton is a sociologist and Assistant Professor in the Midwifery Education Program, where she has been teaching at both Ryerson and McMaster Universities since 1999. Her teaching is primarily dedicated to helping future midwives work competently, compassionately and effectively across differences of class, race, ethnicity, sexuality, religion, ability and language, as well as to thinking critically about midwifery in a broader social and cultural context. Her research focuses on midwifery as social change; equity and diversity in midwifery; provision of midwifery care to women without health care insurance; and genetic testing, informed choice and disability rights.