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Blessed Events : Religion and Home Birth in America - Pamela E. Klassen

Blessed Events

Religion and Home Birth in America

Paperback Published: 7th October 2001
ISBN: 9780691087986
Number Of Pages: 336

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"Blessed Events" explores how women who give birth at home use religion to make sense of their births and in turn draw on their birthing experiences to bring meaning to their lives and families. Pamela Klassen introduces a surprisingly diverse group of women, in their own words, while also setting their birth stories within wider social, political, and economic contexts. In doing so, she emerges with a study that disrupts conventional views of both childbirth and religion by blurring assumed divisions between conservative and feminist women and by taking childbirth seriously as a religious act.

Most American women who have a choice give birth in a hospital and request pain medication. Yet enough women choose and advocate unmedicated home birth--and do so for carefully articulated reasons, social resistance among them--to constitute a movement. Klassen investigates why women whose religious affiliations range from Old Order Amish to Reform Judaism to goddess-centered spirituality defy majority opinion, the medical establishment, and sometimes the law to have their babies at home. In considering their interpretations--including their critiques of the dominant medical model of childbirth and their views on labor pain--she examines the kinds of agency afforded to or denied women as they derive religious meanings from childbirth. Throughout, she identifies tensions and affinities between feminist and traditionalist appraisals of the symbolic meaning of birth and the power of women.

What does home birth--a woman-centered movement working to return birth to women's control--mean in practice for women's gender and religious identities? Is this supreme valuing of procreation and motherhood constraining, or does it open up new realms of cultural and social power for women? By asking these questions while remaining cognizant of religion's significance, "Blessed Events" challenges both feminist and traditionalist accounts of childbearing while broadening our understanding of how religion is ''lived'' in contemporary America.

Industry Reviews

"Considering home birth from a wide variety of perspectives--sociological, political, ethical, medical, psychological, and spiritual--Klassen finds that the pain of childbirth and home birth itself often has a profound impact on the women who choose it."--Library Journal "In this provocative and engagingly written ethnography, Klassen offers an important complement to other social studies on childbirth in America."--Publishers Weekly (starred review) "Blessed Events will appeal most to those in the alternative birth movement, but will be of interest to anyone committed to exploring female embodied experience, as well as those interested in relations between religion and spirituality."--Amy Mullin, Journal of the Association for Research in Mothering

Preface: Motherhood Issuesp. xi
Procreation Stories: An Introductionp. 1
Cultural Contexts of Home Birthp. 16
Risk, Fear, and the Ethics of Home Birthp. 38
Procreating Religion: Spirituality, Religion, and the Transformations of Birthp. 63
A Sense of Place: Meanings of Homep. 97
Natural Women: Bodies and the Work of Birthp. 135
Sliding between Pain and Pleasure: Home Birth and Visionary Painp. 176
Epilogue: The Miracle of Birthp. 213
Interview Guidep. 221
The Women in the Studyp. 224
Notesp. 231
Bibliographyp. 285
Indexp. 309
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780691087986
ISBN-10: 0691087989
Series: Princeton Studies in Cultural Sociology
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 336
Published: 7th October 2001
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.39 x 15.6  x 1.78
Weight (kg): 0.47