In this dissertation, I sought to give postpartum women their own voices so that they could help define the postpartum experience on their own terms. It fills important gaps within the literature on new mothers’ experiences. A phenomenological approach was used, emphasizing the lived experiences of the women, with an overlay of autoethnography, where the personal experience of the researcher becomes important primarily in how it illuminates the phenomenon being studied. Thus, my personal experience of pregnancy into early motherhood is interwoven throughout this dissertation. Forty-two women participated in the in-depth, face-to-face interview, followed by a questionnaire. The qualitative data was analyzed, specific themes became prominent, and were coded for this study. Little of the quantitative data obtained by the questionnaire was used for this study. The following are forefront in this study of understanding how do women learn to navigate the “new world” of motherhood. First, throughout pregnancy, labor, postpartum, and early motherhood women experience control in a variety of ways, specifically a lack of control. Secondly, women are often afraid of doing something wrong, during pregnancy, labor, birth, and motherhood, such as differing from the norms put forward by friends, family, and the medical field, leading to feelings of guilt. When things do go right, they can feel pride, but were not likely to express this in my study. The third area of study in this dissertation, is that mothers are judged in both appearance and motherwork. In a sense, two ideals, “The Motherhood Mandate” and “Beauty Mandate,” are fighting against one another, that of being and ideal mom in terms of mothering and of being an ideal woman in terms of beauty is intertwined. These three themes are discussed in relation to three sociological theories. Medicalization and Foucault’s “docile bodies” thesis both aid in explaining women’s thoughts and experiences, as well as constraints in the postpartum stage. The social constructionist approach of “doing gender,” is applicable as well, as a general framework under which women think and act.
|Commitee:||Duggan, Anne, Gottfried, Heidi, Hankin, Janet|
|School:||Wayne State University|
|School Location:||United States -- Michigan|
|Source:||DAI-A 78/05(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Medicine, Social work, Womens studies, Sociology|
|Keywords:||Autoethnography, Body image, Control, Ideals, Mother, Motherhood|
Copyright in each Dissertation and Thesis is retained by the author. All Rights Reserved
The supplemental file or files you are about to download were provided to ProQuest by the author as part of a
dissertation or thesis. The supplemental files are provided "AS IS" without warranty. ProQuest is not responsible for the
content, format or impact on the supplemental file(s) on our system. in some cases, the file type may be unknown or
may be a .exe file. We recommend caution as you open such files.
Copyright of the original materials contained in the supplemental file is retained by the author and your access to the
supplemental files is subject to the ProQuest Terms and Conditions of use.
Depending on the size of the file(s) you are downloading, the system may take some time to download them. Please be