Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Thesis


Cesarean section


This study examines the experience of planned cesarean section delivery as told by six mothers who have given birth utilizing this method. The rate of planned cesarean deliveries being performed in the United States has been increasing over the past two decades. The existing literature attributes this phenomenon to mothers' fear of the pain associated with vaginal birth, desires to imitate celebrities and maintain vaginal tone, and the greed of obstetricians who push for cesarean deliveries for both convenience and financial gain. The voices of mothers themselves is lacking in the existing literature. Thus, this study draws upon a qualitative, interpretive sociological framework, using in-depth, semi-structured interviews to understand and analyze women's experiences of planned cesarean birth.

The findings of the current research demonstrate that the mothers chose to deliver by cesarean as a result of their lack of knowledge and fear surrounding vaginal birth, their trust in the expertise of their doctors and the wider medical community, and a belief that their bodies were defective and unable to safely deliver a child vaginally. When offering their birth narratives, the planned cesarean mothers actively engaged in constructing moral identities as "good mothers." In order to deflect and contest stigmatizing attributions that cast their birth decisions as evidence of less than virtuous motherhood, they embraced the ideological tenets of intensive mothering and utilized various techniques of neutralization. These techniques included: denying their responsibility in foregoing vaginal birth, denying that the decision to deliver surgically harmed their infants, highlighting their placement of their child's needs ahead of their own, and accusing natural birth promoters of selfishly endangering their children by rejecting medical intervention. Employing these narrative strategies enabled the mothers in this study to avoid being defined, by themselves and others, as lacking in motherly virtue.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminology

First Advisor

Kent Sandstrom, Chair


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Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (v, 82 leaves ; 28 cm)



File Format


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Sociology Commons