Coping with the stigma of home birth: Strategies of engagement and disengagement
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Submission date: 2017-05-14
Final revision date: 2017-11-19
Acceptance date: 2017-11-22
Online publication date: 2018-03-16
Publication date: 2018-04-18
Current Issues in Personality Psychology 2018;6(2):130–142
Home birth in most developed countries is stigmatised. Negative discourses frame women planning home births as risk mothers who put their desire for a particular birthing experience above the health and safety of their children. As a result, one of the primary challenges home-birthing women face during pregnancy is how to cope with this stigma.

Participants and procedure:
This study was conducted in the upper Midwest region of the United States with women who were planning home births with midwives. Eleven women participated in the study. Data included in-depth interviews, participant-observation field notes, and content from one participant’s blog. Data were analysed using inductive content analysis.

Participants coped with home birth stigma in three ways: (1) avoidance, (2) engaging in an education campaign, and (3) focusing on a family tradition of home birth. These responses represent both disengagement and engagement approaches to coping. Nine participants exhibited one dominant coping strategy: three relied on avoidance, three on an education campaign, and three on family tradition. Two participants used more than one approach. Both of these participants used avoidance and family tradition.

Home birth stigma is a source of chronic stress for women who choose to give birth at home. Women cope with this stress in a number of ways. Interventions to increase women’s coping resources and processes may be helpful. Changing the environment through efforts to destigmatise home birth may reduce the overall stress experienced by home-birthing women and improve their wellbeing.

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