I am raising money to fund my thesis research. I am currently visiting Republic of Ireland to interview women who have planned homebirth as well as midwives who attend those births. I am seeking to examine the conditions under which women choose homebirth, and what influences their decision-making process.
I am interested in finding the answers to these questions because, while homebirth is legal in Ireland (as opposed to the U.S., where it is a felony in 22 states for a midwife to attend a homebirth), and the national health services pay for the cost of homebirth when attended by a certified midwife, the rate of homebirth is very low at less than 1%. However, studies have suggested that from 5-20% of the childbearing population would like to have the option of a homebirth. Further, several studies have shown that homebirth is as safe as hospital birth for low-risk pregnancies, and is associated with much lower costs due to the lower rate of medical intervention.
I will be using an intersectional lens to examine the effects of race and ethnicity, socio-economic status, religion, and geographic location on women's birth choices. I will also apply Sara Ahmed's theory of affect and the relationships between emotion, language, and bodies as well as anthropological theories of biological citizenship, the medical imaginary, and the political economies of hope and fear to my examination of the discourse of risk that surrounds the ways that childbirth is discussed in popular rhetoric.
This research will be used for my thesis as part of my Master of Arts in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and may also be used for publication.
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