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Taking advantage of the opportunity to conduct her own research, Joanna G. Vogel ’06 (Ridgewood, N.J.) is studying the current trends of childbirth in the United States for an anthropology and sociology department thesis.

Under the guidance of Andrea Smith, assistant professor of anthropology, Vogel examines the changing birth trends in the U.S., from at-home births with midwives to emergency cesarean section hospital births. Because of her interest in psychology (her minor), Vogel also looks at how and why women make decisions regarding childbirth.

“Our perception of birth comes from how our culture deals with it, and how our culture and society developed certain ideas about the birth process is a question I want to answer,” says Vogel.

Vogel began her research last fall by interviewing mothers who live in her hometown. The group consisted of nine white, middle-to-upper-middle class women who have at least two children.

“I wasn’t sure how much variety I would find in their experiences with childbirth, but in fact, everybody’s was different,” recalls Vogel.

From her interviews, Vogel learned that the older mothers expressed regret for having caesarean sections, stating that the pain of natural childbirth would have been worth it; the younger mothers were more likely to say they knew from the beginning that pain medication would be part of the birthing process.

Vogel has already concluded that her participation in a thesis project has proved to be a valuable experience.

“It’s really strengthened how I approach people about research, especially with interviews,” she says adding that she learned how to manage her own project.

Vogel believes that learning to take a step back and look at a situation as objectively as possible will be beneficial to her in the health care industry.

Last summer she completed an internship at the Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey to gain experience for a career in healthcare administration following graduation. After establishing herself in the field, she plans to attend graduate school.

Vogel is an active member of Haven, a substance-free living environment and club. In addition, she serves as treasurer of the Anthropology and Sociology Club.

Categorized in: Academic News