TCRU-CNR Graduate Seminar, October 2018

CNR-TCRU Postgraduate Narrative Research Seminars, 2017-2018

Organised by the Centre for Narrative Research (CNR), University of East London

and the Thomas Coram Research Unit (TCRU), UCL Institute of Education


Practising ‘outside of the box’ whilst within ‘the system’:

A feminist narrative inquiry into NHS midwives facilitating and supporting women’s unconventional birth choices in the UK.


Claire Feeley, University of Central Lancashire

Tuesday 9th October 2018, 5 – 6.30pm

Library, Thomas Coram Research Unit, 27 – 28 Woburn Square, London WC1H 0AA

All welcome, particularly graduate students.

Women’s choices during pregnancy and childbirth is a common rhetoric that is embedded within governmental policies, cultural norms, and women’s expectations. Beyond consumerism, choice is now associated with feminist issues of women’s autonomy, agency, consent and the human rights agenda. However, evidence suggests that women can face opposition, conflict, and reprisals when attempting to exert their agency. This can be more apparent for women who make ‘unconventional birth choices’ which are characterised as birth choices that go outside of national guidelines or when women decline recommended treatment or care. Whilst some studies have explored women’s decision-making and experiences, less is known about the midwives’ experiences of caring for them. My Ph.D. study has collected data in the form of written narratives and interviews of 45 midwives who self-define as facilitative of women’s unconventional birth choices whilst working in the NHS. By collecting professional stories of practice complex, multi-layered and nuanced data has been generated that revealed stories of sense-making in relation to the personal self, professional self, and identity whilst capturing the sociocultural context of what, how and why they did what they did. This presentation will focus on the multi-methods of data collection (written narratives and interviews) to reflexively explore my rationale, experience, and insights of using these methods.

Claire Feeley qualified as a midwife in 2011 at Oxford Brookes University, graduating with a Master’s degree at the University of Central Lancashire in 2015. During this time, she has worked clinically in all areas of midwifery as well as establishing a research career. She is currently enrolled on a Ph.D. Studentship with the University of Central Lancashire. Claire has a passion for women’s health inequalities, namely around the issues of childbirth choice, autonomy, rights and care provision. She has published and presented at several conferences, nationally and internationally.


For further details please contact Corinne Squire at or Carolina Guttierez Munoz, Thomas Coram Research Unit graduate partner, . Details are also on the CNR blog and the CNR website


Published by corinnesquire

Corinne Squire is Professor of Social Sciences and Co-Director, Centre for Narrative Research, at University of East London

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