Term of Award

Spring 2023

Degree Name

Master of Arts, Social Science

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Sociology and Anthropology

Committee Chair

Heidi Altman

Committee Member 1

April Schueths

Committee Member 2

Marieke Van Willigen

Committee Member 3

Nandi Marshall

Committee Member 3 Email



Despite technological advances in medicine and public health innovations, maternal mortality in the United States remains significantly higher than in other developed countries. Specifically, Georgia ranks as the second worst place to give birth in the country. Maternal mental health conditions are common, manageable complications that can happen at any point during pregnancy, childbirth, or in the first year following delivery, with 1 in 5 women affected. Unfortunately, 75% of women who experience MMH symptoms are left untreated.

This study focuses on patient-provider communication through the birthing experiences of women who have been pregnant in Georgia to examine how their experiences of maternity care impact their mental health. A qualitative phenomenological study that relied on the Person-Centered Maternity Care (PCMC) and the Communicative Care Perspective as theories to construct the study and interpret the data. To analyze the lived experiences of participants, survey questionnaires and semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted with thirteen women. The findings are presented using two emergent themes: (I) the indirect effects of communication on maternal mental health and (II) poor communication. The first emergent theme was divided into two subthemes: (a) postpartum depression and (b) postpartum anxiety. The second emergent theme was divided into two subthemes (a) bedside manner and (b) hear/listen. The confluence of these themes informs maternal mental health outcomes, which is the study's primary focus.

Research Data and Supplementary Material