A traumatic birth experience can occur for a multitude of reasons. For example, it may stem from a communication issue, lack of consent to procedures, or a birth plan gone wrong, or it may even be due to the inherently hierarchical structure of western medicine. Whatever the cause, traumatic birth narratives serve not only as therapeutic mechanisms for the sufferer, but also as a means to use the lessons learned from the lived experiences of people to improve care in the future. Composed of information specific to Kentucky, this research examines the causes of traumatic births and gives voice to those who otherwise may not have their stories shared. Drawing on ethnographic interviews and surveys from those who have experienced a traumatic birth, this study determines common demographics and social determinants of health that may be risk factors for traumatic birth, explores and critiques models of care and healthcare environments that may contribute to traumatic births, and provides insight into future directions for prevention of traumatic births.

Ultimately, three qualitative interviews were conducted, coded, and analyzed to produce these themes: 1) “I didn’t know any better:” The Importance of Knowledge, 2) “Everybody tries to figure out why it happens:” Medical Interventions and Complications, 3) “They don’t have a very good bedside manner I guess:” Communication and Empathy, 4) “Choice is yours:” Choices and the Aftermath, 5) “I’m an intelligent person:” Empowerment in the Wake.

Semester/Year of Award

Spring 5-1-2021


Alison Buck

Mentor Department Affiliation

Anthropology, Sociology, and Social Work

Access Options

Open Access Thesis

Document Type

Bachelor Thesis

Degree Name

Honors Scholars

Degree Level



Health Promotion and Administration

IRB Approval Number (if applicable)