Can the unequal access to home birth be framed as a source of inequalities? A comparison between Portugal and Denmark

Mário J. D. S. Santos

Abstract


Planned home births happen across Europe, but there are countries where informal and formal limitations can be found by families. This article draws upon a short research project conducted in Denmark in March 2014, which aimed to explore the organization of home birth in Denmark and to compare it to the Portuguese case. Private home births, in Portugal, and publicly funded home births, in Denmark, show interesting similarities when looking at the individual experience of choosing and planning a birth at home. However, through this comparative analysis, I argue that the limitations imposed around the option of home birth in Portugal raise important inequalities between women and families planning to give birth at home and those planning a hospital birth. The successful models found in Denmark can potentially serve as grounds for a broader discussion and as a trigger for change in Portuguese policies, to promote ethical and evidence-based practices among professionals, and the improvement in perinatal health outcomes for families who experience planned home births.


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