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Deciding where to give birth in East London - Cassandra Yuill




A light lunch with refreshments will be provided.

Speaker: Cassandra Yuill

The Centre for Maternal and Child Health at the School of Health Science, City, University of London welcomes Cassandra Yuill to discuss their finding on birthplace decision-making as part of the research seminar series.


In England, there has been a long-term health policy commitment to promoting women’s decision-making and facilitating informed choices about their maternity care. Offering more birthplace choices to women with straightforward pregnancies has been a strong focus of the NHS; however, a majority of women still choose to give birth in the hospital, over a birth centre or at home. Models of decision-making often invoke linearity, and informed choice is constituted as an ideally rational action, though each are far more complex in maternity, where ‘becoming’ is immanent. Moreover, pregnancy and birth decisions remain contentious, and women continue to report restrictions on their birthplace options. Stakeholders are eager to promote new models of care in line with national policy, and there is growing evidence of the safety of non-hospital birthplace options for women with straightforward pregnancies, but the crux of the issue persists: how and why do women make birthplace decisions?

This paper draws on several strands of research that I undertook during my doctorate, a systematic review and two case studies of women’s decision-making about where to give birth in East London, where women with straightforward pregnancies can access multiple birthplace options: home, birth centre or obstetric unit. I will discuss the dynamic, temporal and affective modes of birthplace decision-making. In turn, conceptions of the body and practice will be considered, touching on uncertainty and maternal responsibility, or “good motherhood,” in connection to making informed choices about care.

About the speaker

Cassandra is a medical anthropologist and PhD student from the Centre for Maternal and Child Health Research at City, University of London. Her doctoral research focuses on parents’ decision-making about where to give birth and informed choice in maternal health. She received her MSc in Medical Anthropology from the University of Durham and her BA in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Maryland. Her research interest predominantly lie health decision-making in regards to maternity care and reproductive health but also include midwifery care integration, effects of policy and governance on health systems and interventions concerning parent-infant sleep.

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When and where

12.45pm - 2.00pmMonday 20th May 2019

MG26 Myddelton Street Building City, University of London 1 Myddelton Street London EC1R 1UW United Kingdom