Risk resistance: constructing home birth as morally responsible on an online discussion group
(2017) Health, Risk and Society, pp. 1-15. Article in Press.
In hegemonic risk discourses, hospital obstetric units are represented as the safest and best birth settings; however, a minority of women in England and Wales (2.3% in 2014) still opt for home birth. In this article, I analyse pro-home birth discourses on a UK-based online discussion group for pregnant women covering the period 2010–2015 and collected in March 2016, to identify how individuals making pro-home birth posts on the site represented home birth as a morally responsible choice. Using Foucauldian discourse analysis, I identify three main themes: home births as a normal process, representing an intimate, existential life moment which meets women’s needs for care and personal autonomy, and is convenient and relatively safe, in contrast to hospital births which are characterised as risky; home births as morally legitimate and justified by discourses of evidence-based risk assessment, woman centredness and empowerment; and home birth as not risky and the mothers who opt for it were not taking unnecessary risks but were acting responsibly. In this article, I examine the ways in which the online setting can be used to resist dominant risk discourses. I show how the participants in the online discussion group in my study used available discursive resources to challenge hegemonic risk discourses regarding birth setting, making resistance to dominant risk discourses possible, as pro-home birth discourses legitimised ‘nonconformist’ decisions regarding birth setting. The focus on the ‘risk-takers’ in this article is valuable for healthcare practitioners seeking to improve their communication about birth setting choices with pregnant women. © 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
birth setting; Foucault; home birth; online discussion group; risk resistance
discourse analysis, doctor patient relation, empowerment, England, female, health care personnel, home delivery, human, human experiment, mother, personal autonomy, pregnant woman, risk assessment, Wales