Obstetric procedures and childbirth: Educated women's perceptions of patient autonomy

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Research suggests that women who are subjected to an increased use of obstetric interventions and standard procedures may have a diminished perception of their decision-making ability during childbirth. To identify the extent to which women believed they maintained their decision-making power in childbirth, female students at Texas Woman’s University, who have given birth, were surveyed through an online questionnaire containing closed-ended and open-ended questions, designed to measure perceptions of autonomy, and were analyzed for themes pertaining to autonomy and consent. The main finding of this study is that there is a discrepancy between what women report (diminished autonomy) and what they assert (a perception of satisfaction with their medical care). The results of this study point to the existence of an “ideology” of expert authority that is operative in the obstetric practice in the United States. These results are analyzed through theories of hegemony, hygienic regime, embodiment, and metaphysical violence.

obstetric procedures, women's decision-making, patient autonomy, childbirth, hegemony, hygienic regime