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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).

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

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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.

JOURNAL OF PRENATAL AND PERINATAL PSYCHOLOGY AND HEALTH publishes research and clinical articles from the cutting edge of the science of prenatal and perinatal psychology and health. The journal, published quarterly since 1986, is dedicated to the in-depth exploration human reproduction and pregnancy and the mental and emotional development of the unborn and newborn child.

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