Medical Humanities and Evidence-Based Care in Pregnancy, Birth and Postpartum

This two-week interdisciplinary course explores evidence-based care practices in pregnancy, birth and postpartum across western cultures and societies. It is designed for scholars and postgraduate students in comparative literary and cultural studies, motherhood studies, medical humanities and other related fields, and for professionals and aspiring professionals in childbirth (nurses, midwives, doulas, educators and OB-GYNs, among others).

In western countries, one in three births is experienced in a traumatic way by mothers who need time and help to recover from it. Negative experiences prevent women from remembering the birth of their children as empowering and beautiful. They feel that their health care providers fail to treat them with respect and that their options were not clearly explained to them. Likewise, these women feel forced into unnecessary procedures and, overall, did not have the positive birth they wanted. Empowering and more positive experiences are generally successfully achieved by mothers who actively prepared for their birth by educating and informing themselves about their rights and options. 

Participants in this course will investigate texts (excerpts from memoirs, novels, poems, films, plays, essays, scientific articles and testimonies, among others) that deal with the experience of pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum in western countries and cultures in order to better understand what criteria are needed for achieving an empowering birthing experience, and what the are key aspects for obtaining respect and justice during pregnancy and in the delivery room. The increased challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic will be taken into account.

Participants will learn about different models of maternity care and levels of satisfaction in western systems and cultures. The course, taught by Dr. Laura Lazzari Vosti, scholar in Motherhood Studies, researcher in the Medical Humanities, childbirth and postpartum educator, will also study how communication between patients and practitioners could be enhanced, how practices can be revised to offer a better humanist care during pregnancy, birth and postpartum, and, overall, how to bring awareness and change in our society.

Throughout the two-week course, participants engage with case studies, learn about maternity care models from different countries and cultures, and have the opportunity to network with other scholars and professionals from around the world.

This course provides three continuing education credits for professionals and post-graduate students.

Dates: Postponed until summer 2022. New dates to follow.

Format: Course will be held in person with an online option for those who cannot travel to campus.

Requirements: Participants must have a bachelor’s degree or practical work experience in the medical field.

Cost: CHF 1,750

Contact: Dr. Laura Lazzari,