Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download campus access dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this dissertation through interlibrary loan.

Dissertations that have an embargo placed on them will not be available to anyone until the embargo expires.

Author ORCID Identifier



Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Leda Cooks

Second Advisor

Claudio Moreira

Third Advisor

Aline Gubrium

Subject Categories

Critical and Cultural Studies | Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Ethnicity in Communication | Health Communication


Approximately 6 million women in the U.S. become pregnant every year. Over 4 million give birth. Over 1 million babies annually are born with low birth weights or prematurely - phenomena, statistically linked to both lack of "adequate" prenatal care and to worsened health outcomes ( Additionally, maternity "care" in the U.S. has been called a "human rights failure" (Bingham, Strauss, Coeytaux, 2011, p. 189), referring to the trend of increasing maternal mortality, despite the fact that child-birth related expenses in the U.S. are the highest healthcare expense in the country and are also much higher compared to other "industrialized" countries. In this context, the dissertation presented here looks at the construction and negotiation of pregnancy and prenatal care knowledge. Fusing performative, narrative, autoethnographic, and dialogic methodologies, the text looks at and performs interpersonal interactions occurring in varying contexts of pregnancy. The dissertation puts different voices and cultural knowledges in dialogue with one another in order to explore the communicative construction of dominant/authoritative knowledge (Jordan, 1997) and the subjugation of other knowledge streams. I look at health and health care as everyday phenomena, not limited to clinical contexts. Finally, based on this consideration, I propose a relational model of health communication.