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Title: When homebirth “goes wrong”: holistic mothers who end up giving birth in a Portuguese hospital
Authors: Fedele, A.
Keywords: Portugal
Holistic mothering
Wholistic model
Technocratic model
Hospital birth
Issue Date: 2018
Publisher: Centro em Rede de Investigação em Antropologia
Abstract: The article is based on research about holistic mothering in contemporary Portugal. Holistic mothering is an umbrella term, used here to describe different mothering choices based on the assumption that pregnancy, birthing and early mothering are important spiritual experiences for the mother and the child, but also for the father. In Portugal, many holistic mothers choose homebirth and avoid what they perceive as excessive medicalization during hospital birth. Influenced by Davis-Floyd’s analysis of birth as an American rite of passage and her distinction between a technocratic and a wholistic model of birth, Portuguese holistic mothers conceptualize homebirth as a rebellious choice that subverts the predominant, biomedical model. The subversive aspects of homebirth are underscored by the fact that it exists in a legal void and is presented in the media and in popular discourse as a dangerous choice that poses an obstacle to the country’s modernization. Drawing on ethnographic data, I argue that the entrenchment of two opposing models, what Davis-Floyd calls the wholistic and the technocratic, is counter-productive and contributes to traumatic experiences for holistic mothers who choose homebirth but who end up hospitalized, and consequently targeted for critique by the medical establishment and the wider social environment, which originates a sense of guilt and/or inadequacy for not being able to follow-through with the birth at home.
Peer reviewed: yes
DOI: 10.4000/etnografica.6099
ISSN: 0873-6561
Appears in Collections:CRIA-RN - Artigos em revistas científicas nacionais com arbitragem científica

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