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Cadernos de Saúde Pública

On-line version ISSN 1678-4464Print version ISSN 0102-311X


MCCALLUM, Cecilia  and  REIS, Ana Paula dos. Re-signifying pain, overcoming loneliness: childbirth experiences among working-class adolescents in a public maternity hospital in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. Cad. Saúde Pública [online]. 2006, vol.22, n.7, pp.1483-1491. ISSN 1678-4464.

This article examines childbirth in a public maternity hospital in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, from the perspective of young and adolescent women, mostly black and working-class. As an anthropological study, it is based on the analysis of birth narratives and hospital ethnography, especially in the obstetric ward. The women describe labor as dominated by fear, loneliness, and pain. These feelings are transformed into love with the birth of the child. Viewing childbirth as a biosocial process, the authors show how the young women construct meanings during the birth; meanwhile, social interactions specific to hospital birth develop, particularly with healthcare professionals. Symbolically, women construct birth as a rite of passage legitimating motherhood, against the institution's effective de-legitimization of sexual reproduction in low-income black mothers and stigmatization of adolescent motherhood.

Keywords : Parturition; Pregnancy in Adolescence; Social Class.

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