Medicalization Of Birth

Improved Essays
The Medicalization of Pregnancy and Childbirth
In our society there is not a healthy individual who has faced as much medicalization as the pregnant woman. Pregnancy and childbirth have all faced varying degrees of medicalization. The medicalization of childbirth is a very recent phenomenon that began in the early 1900s, when doctors and the medical field became a more ingrained part of society (Epstein & Lake, 2008). Prior to this most births were handled in the home via midwife, yet social discourse mostly ignores the long history of midwifery. The medicalization of birth can be analyzed through a Foucauldian view point. Using the idea of discourse, we can look at the way pregnancy is discussed (Allan, 2014). The discourse surrounding
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A clear issue throughout the film is the portrayal of midwives in the United States as quacks who are underqualified to oversee childbirth. Yet as the film states, the United States is the only industrialized country in which midwives do not oversee the majority of births (Epstein & Lake, 2008). Very early on in the film we learn that this is due to the fact that “Physicians, mostly in the east but also in the deep south…Went on a very effective smear campaign against midwives. They would make posters showing a black granny midwife in a very poor home delivering a baby and saying ‘Would you want this kind of person to deliver your baby?” (Epstein & Lake, 2008). This shows how the medical establishment created a negative discourse around midwives by using racial and class prejudices to create the image of expert knowledge for themselves. Discourse, along with the clinical gaze, have created a system of governmentality that controls pregnant women’s behavior (Allan, 2014; Epstein & Lake, 2008). Allan defines the clinical gaze as “An objectifying way of seeing that looks within and dissects the patient” (Allan, 2014). This can be seen in the way pregnant women are treated as vessels for “new life”. Pregnant women take on the title of …show more content…
We can analyze the medicalization of birth and pregnancy through a Foucauldian point of view. If we use the discourse, the clinical gaze, expert knowledge and governmentality to look at how we see pregnancy in the United States, we can see that discourse, the clinical gaze and expert knowledge have come together to create a culture of governmentality surrounding pregnant women (Allan, 2014; Epstein & Lake, 2008). We can also use DuBoisian theory to analyze pregnancy and childbirth. If we look at the representation of childbirth and pregnancy in the media, it does not reflect the general experience (Allan, 2014; Epstein & Lake, 2008). This creates a history of medicalized birth as the most advanced way of giving birth, which then is repeated as ideology (Allan, 2014; Epstein & Lake, 2008). This is then used to oppress cultures who deviate from the normalized format of giving birth, which leads to further oppression (Allan, 2014; Epstein & Lake,

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