Small Really Is Beautiful: Tales from a Freestanding Birth Center in England

Denis Walsh

in Birth Models That Work

Published by University of California Press

Published in print April 2009 | ISBN: 9780520248632
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520943339 | DOI:
Small Really Is Beautiful: Tales from a Freestanding Birth Center in England

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This chapter summarizes the findings from an ethnographic study conducted at the Lichfield Maternity Unit, a freestanding birth center in the United Kingdom. This technique specifically engages with the culture of an environment and reveals the inner workings of the birth center, from its organizations to the relationships and care offered by the staff. This approach reflects on and engages with the values, underlying structures, and nuances of this model of birth, augmenting what is already known about the clinical outcomes of birth centers and shedding light on the noninterventionist childbirth care typical of these settings. It shows how most women who had previous negative experience of hospital birth internalized the active birth values of the birth center and went on to have empowering birth experiences there. The chapter reveals conflicts between the birth center and the host hospital, with the latter imposing strict criteria for referral, which the birth center midwives tried to subvert.

Keywords: ethnographic study; hospital birth; birth center; Lichfield Maternity Unit; active birth values

Chapter.  12276 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medical Anthropology

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