chapter  1
WHERE TO GIVE BIRTH? POLITICS AND THE PLACE OF BIRTH
Eugene Declercq, Raymond DeVries, Kirsi Viisainen, Helga B. Salvesen, and Sirpa Wrede
ByOLITICS, THE
Pages 21

The most significant change in twentieth-century maternity care was the movement of the place of birth from the home to large hospitals. At the beginning of the last century virtually all births occurred at home; by the end of the century almost every woman who gave birth in an industrialized country (with the odd exception of the Netherlands) did so in a hospital. All the other major trends in maternity care that you will read about in this book-the changing status and role of midwives, the increasing use of technological interventions, the developments in maternity care policy, the redefinition of birth-are intimately related to this move from home to hospital. But the most interesting thing about this change in maternity care is that the end resultthe (nearly) complete move of birth to the hospital-was achieved in a number of different ways. The decision to hospitalize birth in Finland was made for different reasons than the decision in the United Kingdom or the United States. This variation between countries offers us the perfect opportunity to isolate and examine societal and cultural differences in maternity care policies and practices.