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Anthropology of Childbirth: Where, How and Why - Essay Example

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Anthropology of Childbirth: Where, How and Why
I. Introduction
Childbirth is one of the most profound experiences for any woman and to an equal measure, it has been known to cause a similar effect on men as well…
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Anthropology of Childbirth: Where, How and Why

Download file to see previous pages... The experience of birth has been different with each time period and with each culture (Gelis, 1991). Traditions, religions, and feminist perspectives have impacted differently on childbirth, making each childbirth experience different (Gelis, 1991). This paper shall discuss the anthropology of birth – answering questions on where, how, and why. A focus on cultural and social differences shall be considered for this study. It shall discuss the medical anthropology of childbirth, the theory of power, medical power, and the power of knowledge. A discussion on feminism and feminist perspectives on pregnancy and child birth shall also be established. A view on what women want and how they choose where, how, and why they want to give birth shall also be presented. The choice of prenatal care shall be considered for this paper, including the influences for women’s choice. This paper shall then discuss whether or not women have a choice on childbirth or if society has that choice. The differences between the cultures and social classes will also be presented in this study. These topics shall be considered in order to establish a clear and comprehensive understanding of childbirth and its anthropology.
II. Body
II. 1 Foucault, power, and childbirth...
Homebirthers who refuse medical monitoring often succeed in compromising the authority of medical childbirths; they also reject the docile body and live in their empowered body (Cheyney, 2006). They also support the democratization of the woman’s choice during birthing. Those opting for homebirths discuss their attempts at avoiding medical assistance and they create a picture of a reality which does not in any way represent docility, but one which manifests personal power. Women opting for childbirth declare that they do not need all the medical interventions which are being made available during childbirth; and they are also in disbelief of claims that 30% of women cannot deliver their babies naturally (Cheyney, 2006). These women declare that these beliefs are only used as a means of controlling women, disempowering them and ‘medicalizing’ childbirths. By accepting the link between knowledge and power, women are supporting Foucault’s contention that knowledge and power are synonymous with each other. Knowledge/power as a concept also implies the inseparable nature of these ideas and how discipline can increase their impact (Cheyney, 2006). Society agrees that with the power given to some groups (obstetricians) and denied for others (like midwives), social functions are often determined. This understanding results to subjugated conceptualizations which can manifest as medical and midwifery ideals of care. With knowledge and the experience of personal power during birth, women who choose homebirths with midwives declare more power and knowledge in their choice (Gordon, 1980). Foucault criticizes modern practices and how these practices lead to submissive qualities with promised success rates and rewards for their subjugation. In relation to ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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