When the Scars Begin to Heal: Narratives of Obstetric Violence in Chiapas, Mexico

Jenna Murray De Lopez

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Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to examine how obstetric violence is embodied and understood by the women who experience it, how it impacts on maternal subjectivity and what the long-term health implications may be. Design/methodology/approach - This paper is a qualitative, non-clinical analysis of women's experiences of obstetric violence in Mexico. Data sources are derived from ethnographic interviews, participant observation and an extensive revision of public reports and policy. Findings - Local ideas and beliefs over what one must endure to become a "good mother" contribute to how acts of obstetric violence are treated and interpreted by professionals, the community and the individual alike. The ways in which women interpret violence in relation to the wider context of their everyday lives have significant implications for evaluating the effectiveness of approaches to reproductive and maternal health. Social implications - Situating women's narratives within an ecological framework of gender-based violence reveals not only the conditions under which obstetric violations occur, but also the forms of resilience and coping mechanisms that women develop. This provides a deeper understanding for the long-term health implications of iatrogenic trauma during pregnancy and birth. Originality/value - This paper discusses obstetric violence from the perspective of women who experience it and contextualises it within the wider life course approach to personhood and maternal transformation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-69
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Health Governance
Issue number1
Early online date1 Jan 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


  • Anthropology or sociology
  • Culture
  • Governance structures
  • Maternal and child health
  • Obstetrics
  • Patient perspectives
  • Qualitative research
  • Quality

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute


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