Escalating the positive in antenatal consultations: Midwife support in (inter)action


  • Eleni Petraki University of Canberra
  • Shannon Clark University of Canberra



antenatal care, antenatal consultations, assessment, conversation analysis, midwives, support


This article investigates the practical accomplishment of support in midwife-led antenatal interactions. Drawing on 16 transcribed antenatal consultations from Australia, and utilizing principles of conversation analysis, we investigate a range of interactional practices that midwives use to support expectant mothers and create a positive interactional environment during the consultations. The interactional practices examined include positive assessments, compliments, enhanced agreements, extended back-channels, good wishing, humor and joking, and brightside formulations. Through these turns, the midwife works to create with the woman a shared positive stance towards the upcoming birth by encouraging her, endorsing her decisions, treating the woman’s progression through pregnancy as an achievement, and selectively focusing on the positive side of situations. As such, the research contributes to understanding the practical management of support, a concept which underpins many health and care professions.

Author Biographies

Eleni Petraki, University of Canberra

Eleni Petraki is an Assistant Professor in the TESOLprogram at the Faculty of Education, University ofCanberra. She has published in the area of interculturalcommunication, pragmatics, and conversationanalysis. Her research focuses on applying conversationanalysis for analyzing antenatal interactions andhealth communication.

Shannon Clark, University of Canberra

Shannon Clark is a Visiting Fellow in the Centre of Research and Action in Public Health in the Health Research Institute, University of Canberra. She is a qualitative health researcher with interest in communication in healthcare settings. She has used conversation analysis to research interaction in a range of clinical settings including psychotherapy, orthopedic surgery, nurse practitioner consultations, and antenatal consultations. 


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How to Cite

Petraki, E., & Clark, S. (2018). Escalating the positive in antenatal consultations: Midwife support in (inter)action. Communication and Medicine, 14(3), 241–255.