Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Can women choose where to give birth? New research reveals how perceptions of risk influence decisions

Date:
March 12, 2014
Source:
Taylor & Francis
Summary:
Perceptions of risk around pregnancy, and how this influences decisions about where to give birth, were the focus of a new study. Despite childbirth in the UK being increasingly considered safe, the article shows that childbirth is still seen as ‘risky’. This is reflected in decisions about where to give birth, with hospital obstetric unit (OU) births remaining the choice for the majority. Proportions of home-births over the past two decades remaining virtually static at 2.5% and a further 5% take place in Freestanding Midwifery Units or Alongside Midwifery Unit.

New research published in a special issue of Health, Risk & Society looks at perceptions of risk around pregnancy and how this influences decisions about where to give birth. Despite childbirth in the UK being increasingly considered safe, the article by Kirstie Coxon and colleagues show that childbirth is still seen as ‘risky’. This is reflected in decisions about where to give birth, with hospital obstetric unit (OU) births remaining the choice for the majority. Proportions of home-births over the past two decades remaining virtually static at 2.5% and a further 5% take place in Freestanding Midwifery Units (FMUs) or Alongside Midwifery Unit (AMUs).

Coxon and her colleagues conducted a series of narrative interviews with 41 participants throughout pregnancy rather than retrospective accounts used in previous studies. Their research found that birth was often seen as medically risky or subject to danger and as a result even healthy women with ‘low-risk’ pregnancies often consider hospital OUs as the safe choice. The reasons for this were varied and included fear of something going wrong, family history or advice, or practices in other European countries. The risks posed by hospital interventions were rarely mentioned by those planning hospital births with these interventions seen as life-saving rather than risky.

For those choosing home-births or FMUs the risks posed by hospital births was a factor in the decision making process along with a desire for a private environment, having known carers present, more ‘control’ during labour, and alternatives to pharmaceutical pain relief. However the researchers found that very few women, even when opting for non-OU births, actively took issue with the idea that birth was potentially risky or argued that birth without medical oversight was safer.

This research shows that perceptions of risk play a key role in pregnancy which is supported by the other articles in the special issue of Health, Risk & Society on ‘Risk, Pregnancy and Childbirth’. Research by Mandie Scamell and Mary Steward examines how midwives managing births in UK hospital settings accept the dominant medical risk-based approach that is embedding in a standardised timetable of labour monitoring using intrusive internal examinations. In another article looking at Canadian research, Camille Stengel shows risk impacts on pregnancy for women with a history of drug use who are subject to stigma and extra surveillance during pregnancy. Her research found that this can lead to these women delaying accessing maternal health and care services which can be ultimately worse for the well-being of both mother and child.

The special issue of Health, Risk & Society on ‘Risk, Pregnancy and Childbirth’ is edited by general editor Andy Alaszewski, Emeritus Professor University of Kent, and specialist guest editors, Kirstie Coxon, King’s College London, and Mandie Scamell, City University London.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Taylor & Francis. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal References:

  1. Kirstie Coxon, Jane Sandall, Naomi J. Fulop. To what extent are women free to choose where to give birth? How discourses of risk, blame and responsibility influence birth place decisions. Health, Risk & Society, 2014; 16 (1): 51 DOI: 10.1080/13698575.2013.859231
  2. Mandie Scamell, Mary Stewart. Time, risk and midwife practice: the vaginal examination. Health, Risk & Society, 2014; 16 (1): 84 DOI: 10.1080/13698575.2013.874549
  3. Camille Stengel. The risk of being ‘too honest’: drug use, stigma and pregnancy. Health, Risk & Society, 2014; 16 (1): 36 DOI: 10.1080/13698575.2013.868408

Cite This Page:

Taylor & Francis. "Can women choose where to give birth? New research reveals how perceptions of risk influence decisions." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 March 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140312114726.htm>.
Taylor & Francis. (2014, March 12). Can women choose where to give birth? New research reveals how perceptions of risk influence decisions. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140312114726.htm
Taylor & Francis. "Can women choose where to give birth? New research reveals how perceptions of risk influence decisions." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140312114726.htm (accessed August 21, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) An experimental drug used to treat Marburg virus in rhesus monkeys could give new insight into a similar treatment for Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream

Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream

AP (Aug. 21, 2014) Contains graphic content. He's only 17. But Johntrell Bowles has wanted to be a doctor from a young age, despite the odds against him. He was recently the youngest participant in a cadaver program at the Indiana University NW medical school. (Aug. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ramen Health Risks: The Dark Side of the Noodle

Ramen Health Risks: The Dark Side of the Noodle

AP (Aug. 21, 2014) South Koreans eat more instant ramen noodles per capita than anywhere else in the world. But American researchers say eating too much may increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke. (Aug. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Possible Ebola Patient in Isolation at California Hospital

Possible Ebola Patient in Isolation at California Hospital

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 20, 2014) A patient who may have been exposed to the Ebola virus is in isolation at the Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins