The meaning of biomedical technology for pregnant women within the New Zealand context : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree, Master of Sceince in Psychology at Massey University, Albany campus, Auckland, New Zealand
This thesis is interested in critically exploring the meaning of biomedical technology from the perspective of pregnant women, relative to their pregnancy and childbirth (PCB) healthcare and the factors surrounding these constructions. Currently there are significant structural changes occurring within biomedicine and western society that have implications for pregnant women as healthcare users. Accompanying these changes is the introduction of new forms of PCB technology. However there is a lack of knowledge about the mediation and subsequent consequences of these social, psychological and cultural events for pregnant women in New Zealand. Comparatively speaking, interest in the social and psychological context relative to health related behaviour is gaining popularity within mainstream health psychology (Lyons & Chamberlain, 2006). This research was guided and examined using a Foucauldian Discourse Analysis approach. I interviewed ten pregnant women about the meaning of biomedical technology, the influences and the consequences of the technology. Subsequently six discourses were identified after analysis of the transcripts. These discourses included morality, biomedicine, consumerism, risk, the good mother, and naturalism. Overall, the analysis revealed that the women constructed technology as a beneficial tool for use during PCB healthcare because it provided assurance and knowledge. Concurrently though, it was also constructed as harmful, dangerous, stressful and unwanted in some cases. The women essentially framed technology in ways to justify and normalise their use and acceptance of technology during their PCB healthcare. Consequently, the discourses positioned the women as moral and rational actors in relation to their construction and use of technology. They framed themselves in the role of the good mother, to take care and protect their child through pragmatic technological practice. In summary, constructions around technology were shown to be locatable within a problematic healthcare context that has a strong, social mediation. Women were in support of using technology in spite of concerns around the effect of the technology.