Birth and social class: Northern Thai women's lived experiences of caesarean and vaginal birth Academic Article uri icon


  • This paper, based on in-depth interviews with Thai women in Northern Thailand, contributes to a sociological understanding of women's childbirth discourses. The findings indicate that the lived experiences of birth differ between individual women. It clearly shows that social resources such as financial resources and education play a salient role in shaping the embodied experience of birth among women in Northern Thailand. Because of their 'everyday lifestyle', middle class women have more control over the experience of childbirth than that of the rural poor women. Middle class women are able to choose where to give birth, have access to private care and actively seek medical technology as a way to have control over their birth. Their material resources enable their choices. These choices seem to be denied to the rural poor women. But not all rural poor women are passive victims of their material resources. No matter how limited the resources women have, they use them. Hence, there are some poor women who actively seek birthing care that enables them to have more control. But regardless of their social positions (urban middle class or rural poor), obstetric interventions are commonly experienced, and most women perceive caesarean birth in a positive light. Several discourses are employed to explain these findings including women's interpretations of their lived world including risk and the medicalisation of childbirth in Thailand. Taking a feminist standpoint, I argue that differences between women need to be taken into account in providing care to women in childbirth so that sensitive and appropriate birthing care can be achieved.

publication date

  • January 1, 2005