Date of Award

2014

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Department

Sociology

First Advisor

Jimy Sanders

Abstract

This study looks to uncover some of the reasons that the sub-group of women who give birth outside of a hospital setting, and the midwives who serve them, choose to have an alternative birth plan and are willing to undergo social criticism for their decision. This is a qualitative analysis based on interview data with women who utilized midwifery care and midwives themselves. In-depth interview questions focus on the decision to use a midwife, definitions of control in the prenatal and birthing experience, and any kind of facilitation midwifery is seen to give expectant mothers in relation to these concepts. Through analyzing these interview responses, I found an emerging theme work in the midwifery model of care. Women who participated in this model, whether it be mothers or midwives themselves, emphasized ideas of control, autonomy and achievement in the childbirth experience. I also found a heavy emphasis on respect for the mother in this model of care. Furthermore, many of the respondents spoke about the emerging social movement of alternative birthing plans and their relationship with conventional medicine which I feel is worthy of examining through a sociological lens. Finally, an interesting theme regarding masculinity and the role of fathers in the childbirth experience developed from the data.

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