Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Curriculum & Instruction


Curriculum and Instruction

Major Professor

Buxton, Cory

Second Advisor

Bedford, April

Third Advisor

Powers, Madelon

Fourth Advisor

Austin, Patricia

Fifth Advisor

Casbergue, Renee


Research on knowing in childbirth has largely been a quantitative process. The purpose of this study was to better understand the ways nine, first-time mothers learn about birth. A phenomenological approach using a feminist view was used to analyze two in-depth interviews and journals to understand first time expectant mothers' experiences of knowing in childbirth. The findings demonstrated a range of knowledge that contributed to issues of control, confidence, hope, and conflict. The participants also described an increased dependency on their mothers and a lack of intuition contiguous to the birth process. These findings contribute understanding as to how expectant mothers know birth, suggesting that their knowing does not diminish conflict surrounding and may even exacerbate it. Childbirth educators may want to include instruction on negotiating power differential in relationships encountered during childbirth, and to assess the expectant mother's view of birth and her expectations for birth. Schools of nursing should consider the inclusion of women-centered care curricula in schools of nursing at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Clearly, the politics surrounding birthing remain in place and must be removed to provide a supportive environment for normal birth.


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