Feminist scholars have criticised the essentialist construction of femininity associated with ‘natural’ childbirth movements. Along these debates, planned midwife-attended home births stand as the typical representation of this counterculture. In this article, we present data from a multi-sited ethnography on Portuguese home births where we analyse how gender ideologies are reproduced and operationalised by families and home birth professionals. Our findings illustrate how home birth care and associated practices are configuring apparently contradicting gender ideologies. Essentialist perspectives, which conceive birth as an opportunity to reconnect with women's oppressed femininity, coexist with non-binary conceptions of gender, where masculinity and femininity are regarded as fluid forms of energy that everyone has in different degrees, and where men are potentially welcomed in the birth setting, either as fathers or as professionals. Given the androcentric references of modern obstetrics and the marginal position of home birth, we argue that essentialism was constructed as a form of resistance.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was funded by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (grant number SFRH/BD/99993/2014). This article contributes to the EU COST Action IS1405, supported by COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology).
This work was supported by the European Cooperation in Science and Technology [IS1405 BIRTH]; Funda??o para a Ci?ncia e a Tecnologia [SFRH/BD/99993/2014]. This research was funded by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (grant number SFRH/BD/99993/2014). This article contributes to the EU COST Action IS1405, supported by COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology).
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ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Gender Studies
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- Social Sciences (miscellaneous)