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Negotiating control and meaning: home birth as a self-constructed choice in Finland

Negotiating control and meaning: home birth as a self-constructed choice in Finland

Social Science and Medicine 52(7): 1109-1121

Each society has its own consensual understanding of birth and its determinants: caregivers, location, participants and loci of decision-making, which in the Western world are based on biomedical knowledge. However, two competing cultural models of childbirth, the biomedical/technocratic model and natural/holistic model, mediate women's choices and preferences for the place and caregiver in childbirth. This article explores the way in which these cultural models of birth and the existing practical possibilities for choices shape women's and men's understanding of home birth. Based on interviews with 21 Finnish women and 12 Finnish men, the reasons for and experiences of planning and building toward a home birth are examined through an analysis of birth narratives. The analysis focuses especially on the women's definitions of what is 'natural' and their relationship with health services where biomedical practices and knowledge are the norm. The analysis shows that the notion of 'natural birth' holds various meanings in Finnish women's narratives namely self-determination, control, and trust in one's intuition. I seek to demonstrate that just as the biomedical management of childbirth exhibits distinct cross-cultural variation, so also does resistance to biomedical hegemony, as such resistance is strongly embedded in the local socio-cultural situation.

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Accession: 046771500

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 11266053

DOI: 10.1016/s0277-9536(00)00206-9

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