History has shown that the ways in which women have given birth has reflected changes in society and its attitudes. Societal norms, standards and expectations have generally dictated the ways in which most women bear their children. I will examine the changes in how women have given birth in America since World War II. Under what conditions were Baby Boomers born? A generation later, how was Generation X brought into this world? And finally, into what conditions are babies being born today?
As early as the 1920s, the medical community stressed the importance of hospital birth and the administration of drugs to alleviate the pain of childbirth for women. After World War II and into the mid-1960s, the philosophy of American childbirth reflected the Age of Conformity. Hospital procedures were routinely imposed upon women and women were expected to follow the orders of her doctor. From the mid-1960s until the 1980s, the push for women’s liberation made some gains in the treatment of women in hospital birth and provided them with more options and a voice in bearing children. Natural childbirth became an option for some women. The 1980s and 1990s, the Age of the Safe Birth, have provided women with a range of choices and possibilities, as well as technological advancements in the childbirth process. These have made nearly every woman able to conceive and deliver a healthy baby. This paper will investigate these changes and examine the similarities and differences between the births of three generations of Americans.
Amy Beth Polta, ’99 Warren, OH
Majors: English, Secondary Education
Sponsor: Richard Thomas