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Sociol Health Illn. 2010 Nov;32(7):993-1009. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9566.2010.01261.x.

Beyond control: body and self in women's childbearing narratives.

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1
Department of Sociology, University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida 32816, United States. skcarter@mail.ucf.edu

Abstract

In the United States, childbearing is often conceptualised as a time when women lose self-control over their bodies. This project examines issues of bodily control through a social constructionist analysis of in-depth interviews with 18 predominantly white, working and middle class women who have recently given birth in the US. Findings indicate that many participants construct themselves as both in and out of control of their bodies during childbearing. Participants also describe body/self relationships in ways that transcend power and control, perceiving the body as autonomous, accommodating and collaborating. Accommodating and collaborating bodies were described here only among participants who gave birth in the midwifery model of care. The findings illuminate various ways of conceptualising the body and point to the use of different bodily discourses by women who give birth in medical and midwifery models.

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