Published: 8. 10. 2020
Globally, the birth giving practice became highly “medicalised.” Czech legislation reinforces this trend on birth giving by restricting the possibility to choose the place of birth. As a result, vast majority of women give birth in the hospital with only estimated 0.5% of birth given outside of the hospital. Nevertheless a heated discussion about the freedom of choice on the birth giving practice takes place between the Czech midwifes and obstetricians. Paternalistic healthcare with prominent male experts is opposed by female activist, who, advocating for freedom to choose the place of birth are accused of being ideological and lacking expertize. This presentation provides the possibility to experience two “versions” of the truth: the lived experiences of women giving birth and the expertise of obstetricians articulated while discussing the “choice” of place and form of giving birth. In order to engage the visitors, we will create a spatial and sensorial simulacrum of birth situations using authentic pictures and narratives arranged in provocative conjunctions and combined with audio recordings and obstetric facilities.

Our aim is to confront the viewers with the two layers of the Czech debate that we have identified in our ongoing research in the project entitled ”Role of Intimacy in the Czech Home Birth Controversy” supported by Czech Grant Agency. Our focus involves the experiences of mothers who gave birth at home and in hospital, fathers who assisted in deliveries at home and in hospital, and prominent obstetricians and NGOs. In this specific video, we aim to combine public presentations of the dominant voices of the medical experts with the audio version of narratives we have collected through biographical-narrative interviews with women giving in the hospital.

We would like to raise questions about the relationship between the dominant medical discourses and the everyday lives of women who give birth. This debate highlights the gendered framing of the understanding of women’s “ownership“ of their bodies and their ability to make a “informed choice.“

Lenka Formankova, Institute of Sociology, Czech Academy of Sciences,
Eva Hejzlarova, Faculty of Social Sciences, Charles University,


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