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Gender issues in determining the service and research agenda for pregnancy and birth care: The case of home birth in the Netherlands

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Author: Buitendijk, S.
Source:Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, 2, 36, 193-202
Identifier: 430682
doi: doi:10.1179/030801811X13013181961635
Keywords: Health · Home birth · Models of birth care-Models of pregnancy care · Pregnancy care in the Netherlands · Prenatal factors · Human · CH - Child Health · BSS - Behavioural and Societal Sciences


Worldwide, there are two conceptual models of pregnancy and child birth. In the first, 'male' model, pregnancy and the birth of a baby are biomedical processes. In the second, 'female' model, pregnancy and child birth are major psychosocial events for the woman. The research agenda of obstetricians is based on the biomedical model. It mainly focuses on studying the effectiveness of interventions aimed at diminishing the risk of morbidity and mortality. Midwives' and nurses' research agenda centres around 'normal birth' and takes psychosocial outcomes such as women's experiences and satisfaction with different types of care into account as well. Midwifery and nursing are relatively young fields of science. Research training and opportunities are not as widely available to midwives as to obstetricians. As a consequence, the leading research into pregnancy and birth care focuses primarily on the application of technical, medical, 'male' solutions. A growing body of evidence, however, shows that a healthy baby alone is not enough to guarantee a woman's satisfaction with her pregnancy, birth and postpartum period. To improve women's and babies' well-being, the biomedical and psychosocial models of pregnancy and birth need to be reconciled and integrated. © Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining 2011.