UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

I trusted myself to pick what works for me : the meaning and management of complementary and alternative medicine during pregnancy Schmidt, Bethany


Pregnancy and childbirth are major life events for some women. These experiences hold great personal and social significance. In Western countries, the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) among pregnant women is on the rise (Bakx, 1991; Eastwood, 2000; Tovey, Easthope, and Adams, 2003). There is little research into pregnant women’s decision-making when choosing CAM (Adams et al., 2009) or how they negotiate discordant discourses on pregnancy, health, and wellbeing. This thesis explores the experiences of pregnant women who access CAM while simultaneously embracing biomedical knowledge and expertise. This study utilized semi-structured interviews to explore pregnant women’s decisions to use CAM within the context of consumer-driven health care, rising neoliberalism, and the history of the medicalization of women’s bodies. Foucault’s theory of biopolitics is used as the theoretical framework for this project. The process of designing an individual prenatal health care regimen is complex and multi-faceted. The agency on the part of pregnant women to pick and choose the therapies that suit their own needs and preferences remains a potentially subversive act in the context of overarching medical dominance.

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