Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Degree

Master of Science

Program

Geography

Supervisor

Dr. Isaac Luginaah

Abstract

Home birth is a very controversial issue in today’s research literature. Using a therapeutic landscapes approach, this thesis focuses on the perception and experiences of home as a place of birth in London, Ontario, Canada. Thirty interviews were conducted during the summer of 2014 with women who lived in the London area and either planned a home birth in the previous two years or were currently pregnant and planning a home birth. Results demonstrated that women chose home birth, and did not choose hospital birth, due to the need for comfort, control, and support. Key themes around barriers included overwhelming criticism, a lack of information, not enough midwives, and the absence of an alternate choice in birth location. Findings from this study contribute to the literature by providing a unique geographical perspective to women’s health. Policy applications range from the local to federal level and involve such elements as providing a more relaxing and welcoming hospital environment for women; knowledge mobilization within the health care community; and, further acceptance of alternative locations of birth within the Ontario and Canada contexts. Future research should seek to grow the breadth of understanding of the perceptions of home as a place of birth. Similar studies at municipal levels or longitudinal studies of women’s experience pre- and post-birth could fill certain gaps in the literature and give further credence to women’s voices as key elements in shaping the health care system.


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