This thesis seeks to understand women's reasons for giving birth at a busy teaching hospital in Greater Cairo, and what their experiences of it have been. It asks whether women's parity and the money paid upon admission to the hospital had an impact on their expectations and experiences. The thesis uses secondary data from interviews conducted in 2001 with mothers who had normal births, before they left the hospital. It is part of a larger project that investigated practices surrounding normal childbirth. The results are analyzed using the perspectives of critical medical anthropology, biomedicine and public health. Fear of the home setting with its lack of qualified personnel and equipment was the leading cause for not giving birth there, and mothers of lower parities were most likely to give this response. Comments concerning the delivering physician did not clearly show that women in the paying section would be more satisfied than those in the free section. Also, more women in the free section reported that they felt discomfort regarding the lack of pain relief. Negative feedback about the availability of pediatricians did not clearly show whether women were more satisfied in the paying section or not. The third hypothesis stated that women who had a higher parity reported a more positive birthing experience than first-time mothers. Comments regarding the nature of communication with the delivering physician support this hypothesis, and the same is true but to a lesser extent concerning the pediatrician. The same hypothesis is not clearly supported when we find that a minority of women across hospital sections and parity groups were given information about their own health or that of their babies and this has a negative impact on their health. Recommendations for improvement were focused on the delivering physician, the pediatrician, the nurses, and the general service level at the hospital. This project could be repeated every five years and include an in-depth ethnographic dimension, to measure improvements in health care provision and women's perceptions throughout their pregnancy and after childbirth. Comparisons could be made between different socioeconomic classes and regions of Egypt.

Degree Name

MA in Sociology-Anthropology

Graduation Date


Submission Date

September 2010

First Advisor

Nosseir, Nazek

Second Advisor

Rizzo, Helen



Document Type

Master's Thesis

Library of Congress Subject Heading 1

Medical care -- Egypt.

Library of Congress Subject Heading 2

Medical policy -- Egypt.


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Institutional Review Board (IRB) Approval

Not necessary for this item