Title: Towards a new architectural understanding of birth spaces grounded in women’s experiences of giving birth
Author: Sarah Joyce
Abstract: Birth spaces designed by architects are a relevantly recent invention in the history of childbirth. Sarah’s work critiques the production of such spaces via regulation and design guidance and explores user experiences of giving birth in labour wards, birth centres at home. She explores the idea that the context of woman-centred care and policy, healthcare evidence-based design principles and prior expectations/ experience of spaces feed into both the production and use of birth spaces. She proposes new spatial theory which emerged from listening to women’s experiences of giving birth in interviews where women also drew the spaces in the ways in which they remembered them. This new theory considers the idea of ‘prosumption’ of birth spaces and differing patterns of spatial use and behaviour contingent on the context of birth at home, in a birth centre or in a hospital setting. Sarah also proposes practical recommendations for applying this new knowledge to existing and proposed birth spaces architecture.