"What do women want": motives of refusal of maternity hospital in favor of home birth





therapeutic choice, reproductive choice, medicalization, technocratic childbirth, natural childbirth, alternative midwifery, home birth


In social studies, home birth is considered as one of the forms of women’s protest against the technocratic model of childbirth and medicalization of reproduction. In my research, I rely on the methodology of therapeutic choice proposed by medical anthropologist L. Garro and consider the main situations of choice how, where and with whom to give birth: situation of the first pregnancy (in two versions: women without patient experience before pregnancy and women with patient experience) and situation of the second pregnancy (also in two versions: women with the experience of hospital birth and women with the experience of home birth). The article is based on the materials of in-depth semi-formalized interviews with women who have experience of home childbirth, as well as with perinatal specialists (home midwives, doulas, psychologists and leads of courses in the centers of preparation for childbirth). One part of interviews refers to the pilot phase of the study, which took place in Moscow and Samara in 2005 - 2007 years, the other is recorded in Moscow in 2015 - 2018 years. When I have completed the analysis of interviews with women who gave birth at home, I came to the conclusion that the main reason for the home births choice was their belief that they maternity hospital couldn’t provide them with safe childbirth they desired. This belief is usually based on the patient’s personal negative experiences that future mothers could get during previous births, pregnancy or even long before it, in the fields of medicine not related to reproductive health. In some cases, active participation of women in the community, in which home birth is a common practice (for example, followers of a healthy or natural lifestyle), became a significant factor to choose home birth.

Author Biography

Anna A. Ozhiganova, Institute of Anthropology and Ethnography

  • Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia
    • Cand. Sci. (Hist.),  Research Fellow