Experiences, Uses, and Significations of the Home as a Birth Territory in a Town in Central Greece

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BACKGROUND:The issue of home birth has been examined in the medical and social sciences in relation to its biomedical safety and women's birthing experiences. However, the role the home landscape itself plays at birth has only marginally been studied.AIM:The objective of this study is to investigate the material and symbolic dimensions of the home environment, as experienced by women who gave birth at home in the Greek town of Volos in the period from 1994 to 2013.METHODS:The biographical approach is adopted to study women's birth narratives and their descriptions of the new uses of the home; the reflective position was used for the analysis of the findings.FINDINGS:The narratives of the women on their expectations and experiences of birth at home included the issues of safety; privacy and intimacy; freedom, control, and responsibility; presence of the baby and close family members; the “naturalness” of birth; and the joy the new mothers experienced. The home territory was used in new, creative ways to facilitate the birth. The house itself underwent some provisional changes and was loaded with novel meanings.CONCLUSION:Women were found to be empowered in their new role as mothers and as persons in general, and the home was redefined as a more open place that interacted with the public sphere.

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