finalpaperdraft - Yanting Wang TA: Perri Gerard-Little...

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Yanting Wang TA: Perri Gerard-Little Final Paper-Draft November 19, 2010 Hey Yanting, my overall comments are at the end of the paper. Historical and sociological analysis of the medicalization of Childbirth. Childbirth has always been seen as a social event, where people gather with comfort, skills and knowledge to offer. Even’ts meaning and significance are socially constructed; throughout history, people have developed ways to understand birth and change its meaning and methods. Because of this understanding, childbirth can be seen as a creative act, a biological phenomenon and a social event. The act of birth not only reflects the widely held values individual women, but also mirrors and reinforces our social order. One of the major criticisms today is the medicalization and consumerization of birth in America. Critiques of the medicalization of birth are many and varied. They stem from midwifery, feminist, and social theory. The goal of this paper is to look at various transformations of childbirth in American culture in a historical context: the transformation from the bedroom or kitchen, a place with family and friends, to the hospital, a place with hired workers and machines; the transformation from and experience that gambles with pain and death to an experience in which women can choose to be pain free; the transformation in which the midwife is replaced by the obstetric specialist as the designated person who stands before the expectant mother with technical aids; finally, a shift in the technical aids themselves, from natural oils to the synthetic epidural anesthesia. The paper strives to look at the cultural and historical reasons for the continued development of biomedical birth as well as the waxing and waning of the midwifery movement.
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Stick to either first person or third person; don’t use “we” and “one” Before understanding these transformations one must analyze them through their historical context. The history of childbirth, according to Nancy Schom Dye’s (1980) article “History of childbirth in America,” can be broken down into three different eras. Pre-18 th century, birth was seen as a social event and an exclusively female affair, rather than a medical event. During that period, birth was facilitated by midwives and attended by friends and family. Midwives were viewed as very empirically knowledgeable about the birthing process and some enjoyed a high social status. Childbirth then was not romanticized, but instead carried terrifying associations. It was a time of confusion and fear that is complemented with pain and sometimes, even death. Atul Gawande (2006) notes that for thousands of years, childbirth was the most common cause of death for women and infants. These causes include hemorrhage, torn placenta, or uterine rupture. The second period, from the 18
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finalpaperdraft - Yanting Wang TA: Perri Gerard-Little...

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