This Is About Birth... Description Of The Modern Birth Process As On That Is Ritualistic And Shaped By A Technological Society

1466 words - 6 pages

In the ethnography, Birth as an American Rite of Passage, Robbie E. Davis-Floyd describes the modern birth process as one that is ritualistic and shaped by a technological society. Davis-Floyd argues that childbirth is a natural process that does not need to be controlled and manipulated by technology. In this work, Davis-Floyd interviewed one hundred middle class white women, who had access to, what she terms the technocratic model. The interviews were completed with women who either chose the technocratic model or a more "natural" childbirth process. The interviews were comprised of questions about the pregnancy period, the birth process, the mother's feelings about her experiences, and what each mother would change for the next birth. After reading this work, one is left with the impression that a middle ground needs to be reached between the advances of modern technology and the view that childbirth is a natural process in which the mother's wishes need to be respected.

Robbie Davis-Floyd describes the birth experience as a rite of passage for both the mother and the child. There are four major stages in this rite of passage. The first stage begins when the mother finds out she is pregnant. Davis-Floyd perceives that the mother needs to gain a sense of control over this natural process. She stresses that it is the influence and values of the society which will help the mother gain this sense of control (Davis-Floyd, 17). The first phase lasts from the moment a women realizes that she is pregnant until she has accepted her pregnancy. Her acceptance may not come until she seeks scientific proof or verification that she indeed is pregnant. Davis-Floyd argues that the pregnant woman is lead to believe that she is not capable of childbirth, that her body is not fit for the birthing process, and that she needs society's institutions to help her accomplish the birth of her child. This is apparent when a society separates a woman from her comfort zone and from her "social state" (Davis-Floyd, 18). The society's view of the woman has changed and she is now seen as less physically capable and in need of the society's support. This break down of her sense of self leaves the woman open to new ideas based on the values of her society. The goal of society is to "convey symbolic messages that speak of a culture's most deeply held values and beliefs" (Davis-Floyd, 44).

The second stage encompasses the physical, emotional, and social changes that occur during the pregnancy period. Davis-Floyd believes that the woman needs protection from the fears that surround these changes (Davis-Floyd, 18). The liminal phase lasts from the woman's acceptance of her pregnancy until three weeks after...

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