Event Title

High Risk: Truth, Lies, and Birth

Presenter Information

Leigh Fransen, Winthrop University

Faculty Mentor

Kathy Lyon, Ph.D.; Merry Sleigh, Ph.D.; and Evelyne Weeks, M.A.

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Department

Psychology

Location

DiGiorgio Campus Center, Room 220

Start Date

24-4-2015 3:50 PM

Description

In the United States, a small but increasing number of women decide to give birth in non-hospital locations, such as their own homes or birth centers staffed with midwives. My insider’s look into the world of home birth, midwives, and birthing mothers explored the questions: Is this practice safe for both mothers and their babies? How and why do women make the decision to give birth in a non-hospital location? A literature review of both midwifery and obstetric sources clearly indicated that birth in a non-hospital setting in the U.S. raises the risk of death to the baby by a factor of at least two, and as high as eight. I surveyed 1,057 women regarding their beliefs and perceptions of non-hospital birth. The top reasons cited for selecting non-hospital birth were to avoid medical interventions, to be in more comfortable surroundings, and belief that birth does not require hospitalization. In addition, even among women who experienced complications requiring transport to a hospital, women who choose non-hospital birth overwhelmingly believe that non-hospital birth is at least as safe as hospital birth for low-risk women. The disparity between the medical realities and the perceptions of women suggests that some women are making decisions based on incorrect information; in some cases, psychological phenomena such as cognitive dissonance, self-justification, and personal fable may be at play. To address this issue, midwives must adopt a more truthful informed consent process for women considering non-hospital birth, and the U.S. midwifery system must be overhauled.

Comments

Honors Thesis

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Apr 24th, 3:50 PM

High Risk: Truth, Lies, and Birth

DiGiorgio Campus Center, Room 220

In the United States, a small but increasing number of women decide to give birth in non-hospital locations, such as their own homes or birth centers staffed with midwives. My insider’s look into the world of home birth, midwives, and birthing mothers explored the questions: Is this practice safe for both mothers and their babies? How and why do women make the decision to give birth in a non-hospital location? A literature review of both midwifery and obstetric sources clearly indicated that birth in a non-hospital setting in the U.S. raises the risk of death to the baby by a factor of at least two, and as high as eight. I surveyed 1,057 women regarding their beliefs and perceptions of non-hospital birth. The top reasons cited for selecting non-hospital birth were to avoid medical interventions, to be in more comfortable surroundings, and belief that birth does not require hospitalization. In addition, even among women who experienced complications requiring transport to a hospital, women who choose non-hospital birth overwhelmingly believe that non-hospital birth is at least as safe as hospital birth for low-risk women. The disparity between the medical realities and the perceptions of women suggests that some women are making decisions based on incorrect information; in some cases, psychological phenomena such as cognitive dissonance, self-justification, and personal fable may be at play. To address this issue, midwives must adopt a more truthful informed consent process for women considering non-hospital birth, and the U.S. midwifery system must be overhauled.