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Accepted Paper:

Homebirth and birth advocacy: visual anthropology of homebirth in Slovenia  
Nika Senica (University of Muenster)

Paper short abstract:

The discourse of homebirth as unsafe reached its peak during the pandemic in 2020. Birth attendants were adamant about how dangerous this is, as women continued the practice because they felt much safer at home. Using a visual ethnographic approach, I explored what it means to be safe during birth.

Paper long abstract:

Seen as an alternative to dominant hospital birth, many women and birth advocates in Slovenia want the accessibility of homebirth to be part of the norm, included in the public health care system. The visibility of issues like obstetric violence and birth trauma has reached its peak during the COVID-19 pandemic; at one point homebirth became illegal for one month in 2020, as well as women’s partners not being allowed to be present in hospitals. The discourse of homebirth is, to say the least, a contentious matter for the public and the healthcare system, further amplified by the media.

During my fieldwork in 2021, I met a young midwife who attended homebirths, which is rare in the Slovenian context. Through her, I met a family who planned a homebirth. Using an audio-visual approach I followed their path from pregnancy, to birth and after. With the visual research, I intended to look at the contentious discourses prevalent in the public about homebirth, countering them by focusing on the dynamics of a homebirth. Using visual methods in anthropological research, I set out to reflect the need to envision a different birth in the Slovenian cultural sphere, where the forefront are the dynamics between the woman, her family, birth attendant (doula), and midwife. Setting out to look at questions: how can we as anthropologists use visuals to better understand the social dynamics of a homebirth and how can we face our own biases when engaging in the anthropology of birth and its politics?

Panel P50
Is all well with birth? Anthropological contributions to reproductive and maternal health systems
  Session 3 Friday 14 April, 2023, -