Centre for Maternal and Child Health Research at the School of Health and Psychological Science, City, University of London welcomes Giuditta Mitidieri to discuss the struggle to adapt obstetrical practices to scientific evidence from a cultural perspective, as part of the research seminar series.
National and international guidelines are now pointing to a new way forward for childbirth care, based on greater midwifery autonomy and reduction of unwarranted medical intervention.
Nevertheless, the gap between theory and practice is still substantial in Italy, as elsewhere. The struggle to adapt obstetrical practices to scientific evidence shows us that these are not "neutral" scientific objects but artifacts of a specific culture, that as such offer us valuable insights into its dynamics.
Childbirth care practices provide thus a privileged vantage point to study cultures, shedding light on macroelements such as perception of risk, attitudes toward pain and gender dynamics, entangled with microelements such as professional hierarchies and logistics of a facility.
This presentation draws from a two-year fieldwork in which three different birth "ecosystems" were analyzed, each one representative of a specific model of childbirth care: a third-level university hospital in Milan, a private birthing house in Bologna and an alongside birth center in Florence.
Data were collected mainly through in-depth interviews with new mothers, midwives, obstetricians, and anesthesiologists, as well as digital ethnography in social network communities related to motherhood and childbirth.
First objective of the research is to describe in detail different birth cultures in today’s Italy and show how the experience of childbirth and childbirth assistance changes according to the context of birth.
Secondly, a focus has been placed on the alongside birth centre. While being the closest model to best practice guidelines, such centres are extremely rare in Italy.
The alongside birth center will be analyzed as a hybrid model where different cultures try to live together: we aim to understand the cultural barriers and facilitators that determine its existence and what compromises and mutual contaminations have been put in place to ensure its survival.
About the speaker
Giuditta Mitidieri is a PhD candidate in Social Sciences at the University of Padua, in Italy.
She is currently at City University as a visiting student. Her main research area is Sociology of Health, with a focus on women's reproductive health and childbirth care.
Her research project is a comparative study that contrasts three different birth environments, chosen as representative of as many models of childbirth care.
In addition to describing different birthing cultures, the main purpose of the research is to identify cultural barriers and facilitators to the implementation of midwifery-led care in Italy.
She is trained in qualitative methodology and her main techniques of inquiry are interviews and digital ethnography.
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