12. Trial by media: The vilification of homebirth

May 5, 2018 @ 09:00 – 10:00 UTC Timezone
Room 2, Big Blue Button

Speaker: Ella Kurz

Facilitator: Chris Woodhouse

Recording: Click HERE

Ella KurtzThe anti-homebirth debate continues to rage fiercely although research increasingly suggests planned homebirth is a safe option in which women and babies experience less intervention and fewer complications.

 A critical discourse analysis was undertaken to examine media representation of homebirth to illuminate the social construction of appropriate place of birth. Data were published media articles pertaining to homebirth and hospital birth mortality in Australia in the year 2012.

Five themes surfaced relating to the social construction of appropriate place of birth which were: 1. Birth outside the hospital system – criminal behaviour; 2. Character assassination of the midwife; 3. Ignorant and selfish childbearing women; 4. The assumption that death can be prevented in hospital; 5. Undermining birth at home.

As a vehicle of cultural discourse, the media construct and maintain cultural norms of birth, including appropriateness of place of birth. Media cultural norm construction around homebirth is not in keeping with the evidence base; homebirth is vilified. Given the benefits of home as place of birth, we should be vigilant in supporting homebirth as a real option for childbearing women in the face of a cultural mindset which undermines its legitimacy.