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Working-Class Women, Middle-Class Women, and Models of Childbirth

Margaret K. Nelson
Social Problems
Vol. 30, No. 3, Thematic Issue: Technique and the Conduct of Life (Feb., 1983), pp. 284-297
DOI: 10.2307/800354
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/800354
Page Count: 14
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Working-Class Women, Middle-Class Women, and Models of Childbirth
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Abstract

This paper suggests that middle-class feminists who have urged a new vision of childbirth are out of touch with the needs of working-class women. This conclusion is derived from a review of the childbirth literature and an analysis of data collected from 322 women who gave birth in a northern New England teaching hospital. The literature on childbirth--whether written from a feminist or non-feminist perspective--ignores the variable of social class. The data demonstrate, however, that working-class and middle-class women have different attitudes towards childbirth during pregnancy, different experiences during childbirth, and different post-partum evaluations of their childbirth experiences. A single set of prescriptions for childbirth may not, therefore, be appropriate for all women.

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