About the project

Birth Stories arises out of a project funded by the British Academy, running 2016-2018, and looks into the mediation of childbirth in England.

  • It investigates the meanings embedded into media texts that birthing women access and interpret.
  • It analyses the discourses in television programmes, and online videos about the birthing body, medical interventions, pain, anxiety and risk.
  • The book also analyses qualitative data from interviews with 50 mothers in England, half of whom are immigrants dealing with clashes and connections between their cultures of origin and contexts of birthing in the UK.
  • The analysis of these 50 women’s voices is complemented by an analysis of 50 online anonymous discussion threads about anticipations and experiences of birth and interviews with 20 professionals working with birth, parenting and social media.

Together, all of these stories are analysed to investigate the complexity of emotions around birth, the diversity of birth experiences, and the myriad ways in which television, the press and social media both shape and resource, and impede and empower women giving birth. By doing this, the book fills a gap in media studies, addressing itself to gaps within audience analysis, health communication and parenting. It also fills a marked gap in the sociology of birth by bringing media and mediation into the discussion. Finally, it speaks to practice, by incorporating practitioners’ voices in the book, in the midst of ever-growing public health focus on post-natal maternal health and emotional well-being.