In Switzerland, annually more than 165.000 mothers and fathers experience the birth of their child. These parents hope for a normal and good birth. However, over the past years, an increasing number of women publicly opened up about negative birth experiences. They reported instances of humiliation, violence, coercion, or manipulation. In fact, research on women’s experiences during childbirth indicates that maternal autonomy is insufficiently respected and, hence, that intrapartum decision-making (IP-DM) has to be improved in order to promote women’s autonomy, to protect their bodily integrity, and to prevent them from impaired psychological health outcomes.
In light of the widespread occurrence of autonomy-depriving IP-DM, there is an urgent need to study Swiss mothers’ and Swiss obstetric staff members’ attitudes and motives toward IP-DM. Further, it is recommended that women have access to various types of birth settings (e.g. home, freestanding midwifery unit, hospital). Thus, the aim of this study is to better understand women’s and obstetric staff members’ attitudes toward IP-DM and to analyze the spatial accessibility of different birth settings in Switzerland.
To fulfill this goal, this study will not only conduct one-on-one interviews with Swiss women and obstetric staff members, but will also carry out a survey in order to gather additional quantitative data from Swiss women. Finally, spatial accessibility analysis will be employed. Accordingly, this project seeks to answer the following guiding research questions:
(1) What are women’s attitudes, motives, expectations, and experiences with respect to IP-DM and maternal autonomy?
(2) What are obstetric staff members’ attitudes, motives, and experiences with respect to IP-DM and maternal autonomy?
(3) How much value do Swiss women place on the respect for their autonomy in IP-DM, before and after birth, and which principles regarding IP-DM are of cardinal importance for them?
(4) Does access to birth settings differ geographically for Swiss women?