The present study was a qualitative exploration of well-being made meaningful in the lives of women preparing for and experiencing childbirth. The sample (N=15) included women who reflected positively on their navigation of intended low-intervention hospital birth whether or not their expectations were met. Experiences ranged from unmedicated vaginal birth to birth by cesarean. Semi-structured interviews elicited concrete descriptions of planning for and giving birth that provided lived-experience data. Phenomenology grounded the process of seeing meaning in the data and included hermeneutic variations of the reduction and epoché. Findings show how participants embraced ambiguity and became free to know and show the authentic self in birth. Birth-plan efficacy may be improved when dualistic discourse is minimized and standardization is replaced by concrete expectations congruent with women’s unique ways of knowing and being-in-the-world. Activists and researchers must remain opened to surprise while exploring how women perceive a good birth. Moving beyond constructs such as satisfaction might allow for better listening as women describe the felt-senses of well-being. Psychologists can identify and encourage the coherence in women’s lived stories to help counter the effects of birth’s restrictive “shoulds” as women individuate and integrate birth experiences over the lifetime. The participants of this study provided an inspiring view of what is possible when women wisely, courageously, and at times subconsciously, reject the pressure to be right and cultivate the freedom to be well.
|Advisor:||Shustitzky, John, Knighton, Edmund|
|School:||The Chicago School of Professional Psychology|
|Department:||Clinical Psychology: Somatic Concentration|
|School Location:||United States -- Illinois|
|Source:||DAI-A 82/2(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Psychology, Womens studies, Philosophy|
|Keywords:||Birth, Discourse, Embodiment, Phenomenology, Well-being|
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