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Date Permissions Signed


Date of Award

Spring 2022

Document Type

Masters Thesis

Department or Program Affiliation


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Fisher, Josh

Second Advisor

Mosher, M. J. (Anthropologist)

Third Advisor

Young, Kathleen Z.,


Discussion of medical practice as a cultural experience is essential in understanding the disparities between biomedicine medical practice and evidentiary reports without medical intervention during childbirth and delivery such as the use of a midwife. Research, such as interviews, done about birth and birth experience may be able to highlight an individual's experience with these disparities. The history of birth care in the United States and the greater capitalist culture at large have greatly influenced the culture of birth today. Capitalist cultures are not consistent in every hospital or birth experience but remain in every hospital. They therefore also impact birth, and remain a stronghold in general in U.S. medical culture. With this history in mind, research is able to focus on individual experience and how this history trickles down into themes of control, trauma, and knowledge as power. Mothers interviewed for this research spoke about their lack of feeling in control, that for most of them, their birth experience was traumatic, and they felt out of control when decisions were made during labor and delivery. Mothers stressed the importance of knowledge as a way to avoid the loss of control and a way to change the course of events to provide a stronger sense of empowerment for themselves. Empowering mothers is therefore a cultural task that can be accomplished by making information readily available; not only through public means but in creating a cultural expectation for providers to share knowledge and birthing options. Addressing the mindset that Midwives are experts on normal birth, and an OBGYN is medically needed for an abnormal birth, we can bring to light a valid question. Is a midwife not better prepared to see the range of normal, and more likely to recognize a truly abnormal moment protecting the birth experience from the medical intervention?




medicalization, birth, anthropology, reproduction, experience, feminism


Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Subject – LCSH

Childbirth; Medicalization; Pregnant women--Medical care; Midwives




masters theses




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