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Keywords:

  • medicalization;
  • authoritative knowledge;
  • reproduction;
  • prenatal care;
  • United States

Using Jordan's concept of authoritative knowledge, this article describes some of the ways that the prenatal care practices of a group of U.S. women help to consolidate biomedical hegemony. We analyze the considerations that the women took into account when deciding whether or not to accept specific prenatal care recommendations as authoritative, focusing on when and how they used their own “embodied” knowledge and experience as a standard against which to assess the validity of clinical recommendations. The data provide insight into medicalization processes and the role patients themselves play in furthering biomedical hegemony.