Date of Award

6-9-2006

Degree Type

Closed Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Sociology

First Advisor

Dr Lesley Reid - Chair

Second Advisor

Dr Wendy Simonds

Third Advisor

Dr Dawn Baunach

Abstract

Nearly one in three women in the United States undergoes major abdominal surgery in childbirth. According to the World Health Organization, in industrialized countries, the cesarean operation provides no health benefits when rates surpass one in six. In fact, the reverse applies; as a result of cesareans both women and their babies suffer disproportionate morbidity and mortality compared to cases of vaginal births. Furthermore, the decision to perform a cesarean relies mostly on subjective physiological indicators and varies according to the sociodemographic characteristics of the birthing woman. By regressing multiple clinical and sociodemographic factors against the method of birth, this research determines the risk factors of undergoing surgery in childbirth in the U.S. Results reveal medicalized childbirth to be a capricious system where sociodemographic factors determine a woman’s chance of major abdominal surgery.

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