Negotiating the Normal Birth : Norms and Emotions in Midwifery Education

Sammanfattning: Pregnancies and childbirths are not just biological or medical events. Childbirths are also emotionally intense situations, not only for the parents-to-be but also for those who work in delivery care. In addition, pregnancies and childbirths are sociocultural situations; there are norms regarding the normal birth.The study investigates how future midwives learn about the interactive and emotional work involved in supporting women in delivery care. It focuses on norms about the normal birthing trajectory and on how a midwife should encounter patients’ feelings and handle her own feelings in a “proper” way. Based on observations of collaborative group discussions within Swedish universitybased midwifery education, the study shows how students negotiate the appropriate feeling norms in normal birth, as well as in complicated and even tragic situations. In focus are their discussions on how to support the birthing women, their partners, and the babies, and the categorization work needed to recognize potential deviations from the normal birth. The study is based on a situated learning perspective on education, and combines sociological and anthropological approaches to emotions to elucidate how students within midwifery education negotiate the professional handling of normal and complicated births and the attendant feeling norms.