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‘You Feel It in Your Body’: Narratives of Embodied Well-Being and Control among Women Who Use Complementary and Alternative Medicine during Pregnancy

Author

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  • Stuart McClean

    () (Department of Health and Social Sciences, University of the West of England, Coldharbour Ln, Frenchay, Stoke Gifford, Bristol BS16 1QY, UK)

  • Mary Mitchell

    () (Department of Nursing and Midwifery; University of the West of England, Coldharbour Ln, Frenchay, Stoke Gifford, Bristol BS16 1QY, UK)

Abstract

In Western societies, women’s use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) during pregnancy and labor is increasingly ubiquitous, yet there have been few in-depth explorations of the lived experience of women who use CAM and little critical analysis of CAM’s contribution to women’s overall experience of pregnancy and childbirth. This paper explores women’s narrative accounts of CAM use during pregnancy and childbirth to help uncover the meanings they attribute to CAM use. A qualitative narrative methodology was selected for this study, as it gives prominence to meanings that individuals assign to life events. A purposive sample of 14 women who were familiar with using a range of CAM modalities during pregnancy and childbirth took part in the study. This paper highlights different ways the women engaged with CAM, and how their embodied experiences became the mechanism by which CAM use, value, and safety were judged. CAM use in relation to embodiment became one way the women could reorder their world during pregnancy and childbirth. Moreover, CAM use among pregnant women may lead to the perception of more control and agency, but it also reinforces essentialist and naturalist conceptions of women’s identities and bodies.

Suggested Citation

  • Stuart McClean & Mary Mitchell, 2018. "‘You Feel It in Your Body’: Narratives of Embodied Well-Being and Control among Women Who Use Complementary and Alternative Medicine during Pregnancy," Societies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(2), pages 1-15, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jsoctx:v:8:y:2018:i:2:p:30-:d:145522
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    complementary and alternative medicine; embodiment; well-being; pregnancy;

    JEL classification:

    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • A14 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Sociology of Economics
    • P - Economic Systems
    • P0 - Economic Systems - - General
    • P1 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems
    • P2 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Systems and Transition Economies
    • P3 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Institutions and Their Transitions
    • P4 - Economic Systems - - Other Economic Systems
    • P5 - Economic Systems - - Comparative Economic Systems
    • Z1 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics

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