Trial by media: The vilification of homebirth

Ella Kurz, Jenny Browne, Deborah Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting Abstractpeer-review


Introduction: The anti-homebirth debate continues to rage fiercely although research increasingly suggests planned homebirth is a safe option in which women and babies experience less intervention and fewer complications.
Aim: To apply discourse analysis to media representation of homebirth to illuminate the social construction of appropriate place of birth.
Methods: A critical discourse analysis was undertaken. Data were published media articles pertaining to homebirth and hospital birth mortality in Australia in the year 2012. No ethical approval was necessary.
Results: Five themes surfaced relating to the social construction of appropriate place of birth which were: 1. Birth outside the hospital system–criminal behaviour; 2. Character assassination of the midwife; 3. Ignorant and selfish childbearing women; 4. The assumption that death can be prevented in hospital; 5. Undermining birth at home. Conclusion and implications: As a vehicle of cultural discourse, the media construct and maintain cultural norms of birth, including appropriateness of place of birth. Media cultural norm construction around homebirth is not in keeping with the evidence base; homebirth is vilified. Given the benefits of home as place of birth, we should be vigilant in supporting homebirth as a real option for childbearing women in the face of a cultural mindset which undermines its legitimacy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-16
Number of pages2
JournalWomen and Birth
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017


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