Author(s): Bryant J, Porter M, Tracy SK, Sullivan EA
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Abstract This article draws on qualitative data to explore the beliefs through which decisions about caesarean birth are made and to consider how these might contribute to the increasing rate of caesarean birth. A total of 36 interviews were conducted in Australia, including 12 hospital-based midwives, 6 obstetricians, and 18 women who had experienced caesarean birth within the 2 years prior to the research interview. Data reveal a belief derived from the pervasive discourse of neo-liberalism that women are self-governing autonomous subjects in their birth experience, with entitlement to the consumption of birthing information and services, as guided by obstetricians. Feeding into this belief are coexisting discourses that serve to organise 'free choice' in terms of safe/unsafe, order/disorder, life/death; and with ontological meanings, by structuring women's mothering identities as good/bad. The neo-liberal obligation to manage risk and pursue success for both mothers and babies means that women (and others) are obliged to choose what is set up as the most obvious and sensible option: safe, ordered caesareans. The structuring of discourses in this way shows how caesareans can be positioned as a preferential means of birth.
This article was published in Soc Sci Med
and referenced in Journal of Pregnancy and Child Health