Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Human Development and Family Studies

First Advisor

Sedahlia J. Crase

Second Advisor

Cathy Hockaday


Having a baby is a significant and life changing event for women and their families. History and culture have a tremendous impact on our modern day lives in many ways, several of which we are often unaware. The purpose of this study was to explore how women feel about their childbirth experiences and most significantly, how do they feel about themselves following their journey through the maternity culture in America. This study explored the hegemonic modern maternity culture and the ways in which this culture impacts the women who experience it. Eight women and four professional maternity care providers, as well as 5 women representing different decade cohorts, were interviewed. The voices of participants were privileged through the process, including analysis and presentation of findings. Specifically areas in which women reported being silenced or disenfranchised were highlighted. Findings were reported in two parts; first a narrative [re]telling of each of the twelve participant's stories was shared, followed by thematic representations of the data gleaned from participant experiences. Eight themes were constructed: (a) I'm a person, not a chart, (b) Risk and liability, (c) It takes a village (d) Who is in charge here? Power, control, and informed consent, (e) Asking questions and self-advocating, (g) Fear, (f) Power of perception and (h) Health reports. Findings are consistent with previous studies on maternity experience and also provide new evidence in understanding the deeply personal life-changing experiences of childbirth.


Copyright Owner

Amanda Hardy



Date Available


File Format


File Size

322 pages