Society for Medical Anthropology
Volunteered - Oral Presentation Session
In a time where care is often fragmented, locations where care is continuous and complete are rare. Pregnancy and childbirth care in Florence, Italy, however, offers one such rare example. Free prenatal and delivery services have led women to express positive attitudes towards their care. Women’s positive experiences with maternity care in Florence was often based on the availability of high-quality services, as well as positive care received by midwives. In a system that relies heavily on midwives, continuous care is very common. This positive experience with midwifery-based care, however, was not experienced by all women at all points in their maternity care. For many women, at some point, care fractured. These points of fracture are moments in which woman centered care fails to meet women’s needs. While anthropologists have used the term “fragmented care” to describe entire healthcare systems that cannot meet patient’s needs, fractures occur in a system of more or less cohesive services. Fractures provide windows into the ideologies and morals of the local healthcare systems. These points of fracture in the Florentine context demonstrate the limits of midwifery-based care as a woman-centered care. Fractures in maternity care demonstrate the prevalence of local natural childbirth ideologies and provide a new way of looking at midwifery-based care in a hospital setting.