A Historical, Social, and Medical Analysis on the Medicalization of Labor and Delivery in the United States

Jeon, Daeun
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Despite spending the most money in healthcare, the United States has the highest rate of maternal mortality when compared to other developed countries around the world. Additionally, there is a rise of medicalization that has been coupled to labor and delivery. This thesis first analyzes factors that have, throughout time, been associated with or supported medicalization. These include the social and medical history, social structures, government interventions and the institutions and policies that have or still do influence labor and delivery. Secondly, it examines the current medical interventions and their effects on the overall process of labor. The argument of this thesis is that there is a steadily increasing rate of the medicalization following the transition of birth from the home to hospitals. In order to determine the exact cause of this trend, further examination and reconsideration of current practices must occur to provide the best care to mothers in America.

Birth. Delivery. Labor. Medicalization. Institutionalization. Medicine. Social medicine.