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Within the context of global debates about safety and ethics of supporting women to give birth at home, it is important to analyse documents governing midwifery and obstetric practice and influence decision-making around place of birth. In Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom, relatively small numbers of women choose to give birth at home despite their midwifery colleges' support. In the United States and Australia, the obstetric colleges do not support homebirth and these countries have lower numbers of women who birth at home, compared with the United Kingdom. There are numerous regulatory and industry challenges for midwives attending homebirths. This paper reports on a Foucauldian analysis of Australian obstetric and midwifery colleges' position statements about homebirth, who have conflicting views, with the view to understanding their arguments and underlying assumptions. The documents highlighted tensions between competing discourses of risk and autonomy and differences in academic argument. Opportunities for strengthening their statements are highlighted. The methodology is applicable for future analysis of similar documents governing practice in other countries.

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Journal Article

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