Liora Goldensher: Homebirth after COVID
By late March 2020, COVID-19 held the World Health Organization's official pandemic designation for a mere two weeks. Public schools across the United States were sending their students home, states had begun to issue stay-at-home orders, and grocery stores struggles to keep shelves stocked with staples. Journalistic sources began to report on the ways that perinatal care, like all aspects of healthcare, was being radically reshaped by the pandemic. Many reported that parents were seeking out homebirth midwives in rapidly increasing numbers.Some were concerned that hospital birth might expose them to the virus, while other sought out homebirths when hospitals' policies became more restrictive - when, for example, New York City hospitals began to ban partners and other family members from attending births, a decision that was later reversed.
Reporters described homebirth midwives coming out of retirement to meet increased demand, hiring additional staff, and inundated with as many as twenty times their typical rate of requests from parents for care. States where homebirth midwives had fought bitter, decades-long battles among themselves and with state departments of health over the question of whether and how they might be licensed to provide care suddenly saw executive orders and quick legislative action. In this talk, Dr. Goldensher will provide early findings from interviews with practicing midwives looking back on the past year of midwifery during the pandemic, describing changes to clinical practice, partnerships with other care providers, client populations, legal contexts, and more.
Dr. Liora Goldensher is a postdoctoral associate in the Department of Science, Technology, and Society. Her research interests are in expertise and the professions, the afterlives of twentieth century constructivisms and feminist epistemologies, and legal heterogeneity. She teaches courses in women's and gender studies with a focus on health and medicine.
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