First Advisor

Charles Klein

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Anthropology and University Honors






Black women -- Medical care, Postpartum depression, Forensic obstetrics, Racism in social services, Racism in medicine




Postpartum depression is the most common postpartum mood disorder, with 13% of new mothers reporting symptoms within the first year. Adverse birth outcomes, such as low birth weight and preterm birth co-index with the development of postpartum depression. This correlation is particularly alarming considering that Black women have about a 60% higher rate of preterm birth and an 88% higher rate of low birth weight infants than Caucasian women. By utilizing theories of stratified reproduction, necropolitics, and obstetric racism, this paper aims to situate postpartum depression in Black women as a psychological response to systems of medicolegal control and domination. In understanding the higher rate of adverse birth outcomes for Black women as a result of systematic disenfranchisement, postpartum depression can be understood within the broader context of obstetric racism. Six hour-long digital interviews were conducted with Black women who were pregnant, or had given birth within the last eight months, in order to gain phenomenological understanding of the added stress of giving birth in a marginalized body. Themes of prior knowledge of racism in the medical system, isolation and fear were common among responses.


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