Midwifery Care 3: Challenges in Contemporary Maternity Care

Unit code: HMB3003 | Study level: Undergraduate
(Generally, 1 credit = 10 hours of classes and independent study.)
VU Sunshine Clinical School
HMB3001 - Midwifery Care 2: Women with Complex Childbearing Needs; and
HMB3002 - Midwifery Practice Experience 2
(Or equivalent to be determined by unit coordinator)


This unit focuses on the socio-cultural context of childbearing through a feminist lens. Students will explore how women’s experiences of birth around world, and then in Australia, are impacted by gender roles and power differentials. Students will critically examine the human rights of women in maternity care and birth, comparing Australian and global perspectives. Students will review the evidence available to explore how interventions that commonly occur in professional practice directly impact on the midwife’s capacity to provide woman-centred care and health outcomes for women and their babies. Students will engage with maternity consumer advocates to interrogate the issues impacting maternity care provision and resilience of the midwife as a health professional. Sustainability of the midwife’s role within the midwifery workforce will also be investigated. This knowledge will provide opportunities for students to reflect on their professional self-development and their perspectives about the role of the midwife across the spectrum of women’s maternity care in Australia.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:

  1. Interrogate how the birthing and reproductive rights of women are determined by the socio-cultural landscape in Australia from an intersectional feminist perspective;
  2. Investigate how technology and the medicalisation of maternity care provision has impacted women’s healthy birthing and midwives’ capacity to facilitate this utilising woman-centred care;
  3. Explore how women’s experiences of childbearing care can inform the provision of maternity care by examining the role of advocacy in midwifery models of care and Continuity of Care experiences;
  4. Identify and analyse the factors impacting on midwives’ leadership in informing the provision of woman-centred care in practice settings; and
  5. Interrogate factors influencing midwives’ resilience, health and wellbeing and work satisfaction.


For Melbourne campuses

The assessment tasks align with the learning outcomes and graduate capabilities. The first assessment is a written critique and synopsis of two peer reviewed journal articles exploring a socio-cultural issue that students identify from practice. For assessment two, students will generate and submit questions for an interactive conversation with a maternity consumer advocate. The aim of this assessment task is to explore women’s understandings of their birthing rights and any issues that may have arisen in their maternity care. For the third assessment, students will work in groups to further explore a contemporary maternity socio-cultural issue and ways in which the identified issue can be addressed. Findings will be presented to peers as a poster. The Continuity of Care report details evidence-based reflective learning of student’s individual learning of childbearing from a woman’s experience which is critical to locating developing practice in a philosophy of woman-centred care.

Assessment type: Research Paper
Grade: 30%
Critique of two pieces of research (500 words each; total 1000 words)
Assessment type: Practicum
Grade: 30%
Question Guide designed for a conversation with a consumer advocate in maternity care (1000 words equivalent)
Assessment type: Presentation
Grade: 40%
Group poster presentation (20 mins)
Assessment type: Report
Grade: 0%
Continuity of Care Report detailing experience with one of the recruited women (1000 words)

Required reading

Required readings will be made available on VU Collaborate.

As part of a course

This unit is studied as part of the following course(s):

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