Women are finding appeal in (or, at minimum, a lower level of resistance to) caesarean delivery despite the health risks that it poses, and I investigate how this decision figures into a broader pattern of women's gender socialisation within a culture that is deeply anxious about women's bodies. I review scholarship on caesarean delivery, and use social practice theory to map possible contact points between theories of embodiment, a sociology of gender, and the specific practice of caesarean section. I consider caesarean delivery as a component of a social practice, and adopt a practice framework to analyze women's motivation for selecting (or consenting to) caesarean delivery. I detail the materiality of the hospital, the medicalisation of women's bodies, and women's antagonistic body relationship to reveal some of the less immediately apparent reasons why caesarean delivery has been normalised and rendered invisible as part of the pattern of modern childbirth. Interventions to address the further escalation of caesarean delivery might consider how this decision aligns with other social practices. I conclude that activism addressing the social conditions that make caesarean delivery so attractive may radiate out to other aspects of women's lives where the practices of normative femininity have proven equally restrictive.
Health Sociology Review
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Open Access Status
Jolly, Natalie, "Cutting Through the Discussion on Caesarean Delivery: Birth Practices as Social Practices" (2018). SIAS Faculty Publications. 828.