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Race, sexual orientation, and childbirth: locating identity in the framework of social support




Porterfield-Finn, Bentley, author
Faw, Meara, advisor
Parks, Elizabeth, committee member
Brown, Samantha, committee member

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Social support is a growing field in Communication Studies. Scholars from a variety of disciplines have studied the influence of social support on health, but there is a need for more research which considers how identity factors, including racial identity and sexual orientation, influence supportive interactions. Using the case study of childbirth as a stressful event and investigating the role of doulas as support providers in this context, the present study explores how identity influences both provisions of support and evaluations of support. This mixed methods study, consisting of interviews with doulas (n = 16) and a survey of expecting parents (n = 168), deepens our understanding of how racial identity and sexual orientation influence how doulas communicate support to birthing persons as well as how these identity factors influence from whom expecting parents report a willingness seek support. Combined findings from these studies illuminate how doulas support birthing persons and the nuanced influence of racial identity and sexual orientation on this support. Limitations and future directions are discussed.


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social support


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