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Penn Bioeth J. 2006 Spring;2(2):33-7.

Childbirth in modern Athens: the transition from homebirth to hospital birth.

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University of Pennsylvania, USA.


The transition of birthing practices in Greece from a homebirth culture, in which women deliver at home surrounded by family and under the supervision of a typically female birth attendant, to a biomedical birth model, in which women deliver in a hospital with numerous forms of medical intervention and under the control of a physician, has been unusually rapid. Today, Western biomedicine not only dominates the health care system in Greece but has an essential hegemony on women's health care. My research examines whether the pervasive utilization of biomedical environments for birthing can be explained by a lack of alternatives or by women's satisfaction with the technology and care available in hospitals. I also examine how women retain control over their experience of pregnancy and childbirth within the biomedical context and attempt to explain the emerging construction of a "natural" discourse on pregnancy and childbirth in Athens. Major themes that emerged from interviews with Athenian women were the lack of consent for medical intervention during birth, limited infrastructure to support women who seek non-medical alternatives, and limited emotional support and collective education for mothers in the urban environment of Athens. Also, women described choosing the right caregiver as essential to maintaining a sense of control over their pregnancy and, more generally, over their life. In light of women's apparent interest in improving women's experience of pregnancy and childbirth in Athens, it is recommended that researchers further explore the interaction of medical and non-medical discourses on pregnancy and childbirth.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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