Trials of Labour, by Brian Burtch, is a detailed study of the available social science literature on childbirth and midwifery. The transformation of the role of the midwife is examined, especially the resurgence of the midwifery movement in North America. Burtch uses historical and contemporary materials to review ways in which midwives were subject to legal regulations in various countries. In Canada, midwifery practice was essentially outlawed, in favour of childbirth attendance by physicans and nurses. Original research on over 1,000 attempted home births in Canada is presented, using studies from other countries. Dilemmas of legalizing midwives are outlined, along with concerns over medicalizing and regulating birth. Canada is the only industrialized country to not recognize midwifery as an established occupation. This book traces the displacement of midwives in Canada, and their resurgence, in the context of international material on midwifery, birth, and obstetrical control.

"Burtch presents a dynamic view of the midwifery movement, looking at it within the constraints of the larger political system and the law ... One of its greatest strengths lies in the original research on community midwives." Dr. Shelly Romalis, Anthropology, York University.


Chapter One: The Midwifery Movement in Canada
Chapter Two: The State and Health Care
Chapter Three: Historical and Crosscultural Aspects of Midwifery
Chapter Four: 'To Be With Woman': Midwifery Practice in Canada
Chapter Five: Midwives and the Law in Canada
Chapter Six: Moving into Midwifery: Paradoxes of Legalization
Bibliography (28 pages)
Author/Subject Index
Trials of Labour


How to Order

Brian Burtch Trials of Labour: The Re-emergence of Midwifery
[McGill-Queen's University Press], 1994, 288 pages.

(Cloth) ISBN 0-7735-1141-5 $39.95*
(Paper) ISBN 0-7735-1143-1 $15.95*
* special offer of 20% discount for copies ordered directly from publisher (see below)

Trials of Labour can be ordered through booksellers, using the ISBN, or it may be obtained through the publisher. Send orders to:

Direct Mail Manager
McGill-Queen's University Press
3430 McTavish Street
Montreal, Quebec H3A 1X9

FAX: (514) 398-4333 for specific information on postage, taxes (where applicable), etc. Outside Canada, prices are in U.S. dollars.

About the Author

Brian Burtch completed his doctoral research on midwifery at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C. He is an Associate Professor in the School of Criminology, Simon Fraser University, an Associate Member of the Department of Women's Studies, Simon Fraser University and was as an Adjunct Professor with the Midwifery Programme at Thames Valley University/Queen Charlotte's Hospital in London, England. His previous book is The Sociology of Law: Critical Approaches to Social Control (Harcourt Brace Canada, 1992). Brian Burtch can be contacted

c/o School of Criminology
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, B.C. V5A 1S6
tel: 604-291-4038
fax: 604-291-4140

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