Parturescence: A theorisation of women's transformation through childbirth

Ella Kurz, Deborah Davis, Jenny Browne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


PROBLEM: The potential for positive transformation through giving birth is under-acknowledged and poorly understood.

AIM AND METHOD: By drawing on theories of new feminist materialism to open up ways of thinking about childbirth and maternity care, we discuss how aspects of the process of matrescence, a woman's 'mother-becoming', pertain to women's opportunities in childbirth. We introduce the term, 'parturescence', as a moniker for the opportunity for 'becoming', and therefore transformation, offered in birth giving.

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION: Using Davies' interpretation of Bergson's lines of descent and ascent we suggest the conditions of a woman's parturescence (whether birth giving will result in a positive or negative transformation) is enabled by 'with woman' midwifery care. The intra-action between this care, and the materiality of birth - the pain and exhaustion women experience in labour and birth, results in a rematerialisation of who and what women are and the opportunity for women's transformation.

CONCLUSION: The development of this theory of parturescence unifies disparate aspects of maternity care and birth literature, provides insight into the potential mechanisms and conditions that impact women's parturescence, and suggests that birth, including the challenging and destabilising parts, is not just for the production of a baby, but also a site of women's 'becoming'.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-143
Number of pages9
JournalWomen and Birth
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022


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