The biological process of childbirth is universal, but how a person enters the world reflects social, political, and medical patterns. This study explores the recent implementation of birthing centers designed for Amish patients that provide expectant mothers with advanced healthcare in a context that aligns with their religious lifestyle. The dominant discourse surrounding pregnancy and childbirth, ranging from popular advice literature to the laws regulating and criminalizing improper behavior, categorize pregnancy as a medical event that places doctors as the ultimate authority. Based on participant observation in one birthing center and six interviews with the midwives and nurses who work there, I explore how Amish patients and medical professionals navigate the intersection between modern healthcare and religious and cultural beliefs. I found that the pregnancies of Amish women are becoming increasingly medicalized, but place their church and families, rather than doctors, as the authority.


Craven, Christa


Sociology and Anthropology


Social and Cultural Anthropology


Amish, Pregnancy, Childbirth, Birthing Center, Medicalization

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2016 Leah M. Penner