Graduation Year

Spring 2012

Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Biology

Reader 1

Lara Deeb

Reader 2

Gretchen Edwalds-Gilbert

Reader 3

Newton Copp

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2012 Abigail Jones

Abstract

The United States is ranked 27th in the world for maternal mortality, yet spends twice as much on maternity care services as countries with better maternal health indicators. Stuck in a technocratic and physician-dominated maternity care system, the U.S. depends on expensive technologies to control birth out of fear of pain and litigation, costing Americans billions of dollars and depriving women of the opportunity to have a transformative birth experience. Through an analysis of the medicalization of birth and the current biomedical model in birth, in conjunction with open-ended interviews with 5 hospital midwives and 3 homebirth midwives, the benefits and challenges of incorporating a midwifery model of care into our maternity services are explored. The midwifery model emphasizes that birth is not pathology and that psychosocial factors play a large role in birth outcomes. Basing their practice on collaboration, education, and support, midwives empower women, avoid unnecessary interventions, and offer a lower cost and higher quality care alternative. The current monopoly of women’s health services by physicians is unsustainable. Incorporating midwives into the maternity care team could provide a sustainable alternative with the caliber of maternity care services that U.S. women and families deserve.