Navigating Risk in Minnesota’s Birth Landscape: Care Providers’ Perspectives
AbstractOver 99 percent of US births occur in hospitals, but a small minority of women actively seek out-of-hospital deliveries—primarily at home. Through a qualitative study with maternity care providers in the Twin Cities, Minnesota, we examine the role of the healthcare industry in constructing places of birth in the US. We argue that healthcare structures have reinforced a medicalized notion of risk that defines the birthing landscape, significantly influencing broader understandings of what birth looks like in different places. Specifically, hospital birth is defined as the normative ‘safe’ option, juxtaposed against the ‘riskier’ feminine site of the home. These understandings of the birth landscape are used to make and justify spatial choices about where birth is most desirable, with implications for birth experiences.
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