Birthing Autonomy: Women’s Experiences of Planning Home Births

Birthing Autonomy: Women’s Experiences of Planning Home Births, is written in an accessible way and will be invaluable to expectant mothers who want to be more informed about choices they are facing and the wider context within which their birth options are considered. It will also be enlightening for students and practising midwives and obstetricians, as well as researchers and students of nursing, medical sociology, health studies, gender studies, feminist practitioners and theorists.

About the book

The book brings some balance to these difficult arguments by focusing on woman’s views and their experiences of planning home births. It is the first in-depth exploration of how woman make decisions about home births and what aspects matter most to them. The book compares how differently the pros and cons of home births are constructed and contemplated by mothers and by the medical profession, and looks at how current obstetric thinking and practices can disempower and harm woman emotionally and spiritually as well as physically.


Is home birth dangerous for women and babies? Should women decide where to have their babies?

Home birth is a highly contentious issue in a number of countries, including Britain. The UK Government appears to support a policy of more home births, while mainstream medical opinion remains firmly opposed to it and a growing number of woman and midwives struggle to make it a realistic option. Research suggests that for healthy woman and babies home birth is safe and has certain benefits for those who plan it, yet woman planning home births are sometimes accused of being reckless and of taking risks with their babies’ and their own lives.

Review: It has taken me a long time to get round to reading this book and in the intervening time, the points that the author makes have become even more salient and the situation for birthing women even less rosy.

“This may look like a niche book. It isn’t. This is absolutely fundamental stuff. Edwards’ PhD study interviewed, in a very intelligent way, women planning, and having, or not having, babies born at home. And boy did she get some very intelligent, far from uniform, responses. The way she has written the book allows us to hear the women’s voices loud and clear, and then she has done the work to draw out the themes. Which may be surprising… Spoiler Alert: It’s not about geography. Her findings present both a challenge and an opportunity. One which midwifery is failing, big time currently (I say midwifery not ‘midwives’ for reasons that are made clear in the book and in other powerful works) Her work shows the impact not just in a narrow clinical sense, nor even just on parenting, but on women (and their partners) in much bigger ways. Get birth ‘right’ (by which I don’t mean ‘lucky’) and you might change the world. (She doesn’t quite say this but I do wonder if one of the forces in opposite isn’t an unconscious fear of the power of the empowered vs the (sadly usual) disempowerment)”

Review from:

Limited excerpts from Birthing Autonomy: Women’s Experiences of Planning Home Births are available to view here:

Nadine’s PhD thesis, that her book Birthing Autonomy is based on, is available to view on-line here:

Buy Birthing Autonomy: Women’s Experiences of Planning Home Births, direct from Routledge at: