Pregnant women are often portrayed in the media as sick patients in need of healing. Influential midwife Ina May Gaskin has questioned why the medical field doubts the power of women to trust their own bodies. The belief that pregnancy is a condition which weakens and even in some ways infantilizes women disempowers them. Pregnant women in the media are typically portrayed comically, in which the ailments of their condition are overemphasized while simultaneously trivialized. However, the birthing process itself is typically shown as something that women do not have the ability to navigate on their own. They are out of control during labor and are typically shown to be unable to handle unmedicated childbirth. Such depictions undoubtedly influence pregnant women to unquestioningly adhere to typical medical practices, heavily relying on medication which is more likely to lead to interventions during birth which greatly increase the likelihood of surgery. The sense of being acted upon as opposed to acting can also negatively impact the postpartum period and even impact the likelihood of postpartum depression.
However, some women resist these scripts from dominant culture, largely through the influence of the narratives of fellow women who share their birth stories. These narratives can be language based (oral or written) and can also instead or additionally be visual (photographs and videos.) Though pregnancy is a time in which women need to receive good self-care and medical treatment, their condition should not be mistaken for an illness. Women choosing to write their own narratives of their pregnancy are also powerful. Women chronicling their journey of pregnancy as well as the story of their deliveries is just as important as the chronicling of the baby’s life which they will undoubtedly go on to document. It allows them to appropriately situate themselves as subjects rather than objects, reclaiming their own voice in their birth story.
Gibson, Charity L.
"Birth Narratives: A Vehicle for Women’s Agency and Catharsis,"
Survive & Thrive: A Journal for Medical Humanities and Narrative as Medicine: Vol. 5:
1, Article 12.
Available at: https://repository.stcloudstate.edu/survive_thrive/vol5/iss1/12