Warning message

This content is filtered. APPPAH membership is required for full access to journal articles.
-A +A
Publication Date: 
May, 1991
Page Count: 
Starting Page: 

This paper discusses the implications of a research project that was reported elsewhere. Here the issue of empowerment and disempowerment of women during hospital births is discussed. The author takes the view that birthing technology can be used to both ends, but is usually used in disempowering ways.


1. Data from maternal interviews cited in this paper are derived from the author's interviews with postpartum women as part of a study of second stage labor titled A Comparison of Supported vs Directed Bearing-Down Efforts During the Expulsive Phase/Second Stage Labor. (Grant No. 1 RO1 NR 01500-03, National Center for Nursing Research, NIH, DHHS). For details about the interview procedure, see reference authored by McKay, Barrows, and Roberts (1990).

2. Videotape diagrams were drawn from videotapes obtained as part of the above named study. The author wishes to acknowledge the assistance of Teri Barrows, R.N., M.S., research associate for the second stage labor project, in developing the process for translating the spatial relationships in the videotapes into computerized graphic representations. For details about the videotaping procedure, see reference authored by McKay, Barrows, and Roberts (1990).

Bergum, V. (1989). Woman to mother, a transformation. South Hadley, Massachusetts: Bergin & Garvey.

Davis-Floyd, R.E. (1988). Birth as an American rite of passage. In K.L. Michaelson (Ed.), Childbirth in America: Anthropological perspectives (pp. 153-171). South Hadley, Mass: Bergin & Garvey.

Hedstrom, L.W., & Newton, N. (1986). Touch in labor: A comparison of cultures and eras. Birth, 13(3), 181-186.

Howard, J. (1975). Humanization and dehumanization of health care. In J. Howard & A. Strauss (Eds.), Humanizing health care (pp. 57-102). New York: Wiley.

Kennell, J. (1982). The physiologic effects of a supportive companion (doula) during labor. In M. Klaus & M. Robertson (Eds.), Birth, interaction and attachment (pp. 19-23). New Jersey: Johnson & Johnson.

Kirkham, M. (1988). Midwives and information-giving during labor. In S. Robinson & A. Thompson (Eds.), Midwives, Research and Childbirth, Vol. 1 (pp. 117-138). London: Chapman and Hall.

Mahan, C., & McKay, S. (1983). Obstetrical routines: How worthwhile are membrane stripping and amniotomy? Contemporary OB/GYN, 22, 173-184.

Mahan, C., & McKay, S. (1984a.). Obstetrical routines: Antenatal care. Contemporary OB/GYN, 23, 147-158.

Mahan, C., & McKay, S. (1984b.). Are we overmanaging second stage labor? Contemporary OB/GYN, 24, 37-63.

McKay, S., Barrows, T., & Roberts, J. (1990). Women's views of second stage labor assessed by interviews and videotapes. Birth, 17(4), 192-198.

McKay, S. (1982). Humanizing services through family-centered care. Minneapolis:ICEA.

McKay, S., & Mahan, C. (1983). Obstetrical routines: Preps and enemas-keep or discard? Contemporary OB/GYN, 22, 241-248.

McKay, S., & Mahan, C. (1984). Laboring patients need more freedom to move. Contemporary OB/GYN, 22, 241-248.

McKay, S., & Mahan, C. (1985). Obstetrical routines: Ways to upgrade postpartal care. Contemporary OB/GYN, 27, 63-76.

McKay, S., & Mahan, C. (1988a.). Modifying the stomach's contents of laboring women: Why and how; success and risks. Birth, 15(4), 213-221.

McKay, S., & Mahan, C. (1988b.). How can aspiration of vomitus in obstetrics best be prevented? Birth, 15(4), 222-229.

McKay, S., & Phillips, C. (1984). Family-centered maternity care: Implementation strategies. Rockville, MD: Aspen.

Montague, A. (1971). Touching the human significance of the skin. New York: Columbia University Press.

Oakley, A. (1983). Social consequences of obstetric technology: The importance of measuring "soft" outcomes. Birth, 10(2), 99-108.

Rothman, B.K. (1988). Recreating motherhood, ideology and technology in a patriarchal society. New York: Norton.

Sosa, R., Kennell, J., Robertson, S., & Urrutia, J. (1980). The effect of a supportive companion on perinatal problems, length of labor, and mother-infant interaction. New England Journal of Medicine, 303, 597-600.

Susan McKay, R.N., Ph.D.

Susan McKay is a psychologist in private practice and a professor of nursing in the School of Nursing, University of Wyoming, P.O. Box 3065, Laramie, WY 82071-3065, USA.