Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Social Welfare


Miriam Abramovitz

Committee Members

Bernadette Hadden

Anthony Sainz

Subject Categories

Medicine and Health Sciences | Other Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social Work | Sociology


black women, maternal health, pregnancy, loss


Black Middle-Class Women and Pregnancy Loss: A Qualitative Inquiry is the first qualitative research case study of its kind on Black Infant Mortality (BIM) to focus on a target group of black American-born middle-class professional married women who have all lived through the experience of infant loss. This target group allows Lisa Paisley-Cleveland to examine the BIM phenomenon outside the poverty paradigm and issues attached to teenage pregnancy, as well as to explore contributing factors attached to the persistent black and white disparity in infant mortality rates, which according to CDC’s January 2013 report are 12.40 and 5.35 respectively.

This research raised the following question: given the disparity in the infant mortality rates among middle-class black and white women, are there factors attached to the pregnancy experience of middle-class black women that could help us understand the adverse birth outcomes for this target group? While investigating the answer to this question, Paisley-Cleveland provides readers entry into the pregnancy experiences of eight women from pregnancy planning to infant loss, and the research examines feelings, events, circumstances, interactions, behaviors, culture and history embedded in their pregnancy stories to explicate possible factors connected to adverse birth outcomes. It links the women’s personal stories to clinical, and psychosocial factors, placing their experiences at the center of the research, and demystifying assumptions. The study’s narratives and conclusions are built into a literary structure which helps to make a complex subject relatable and understandable.


Digital reproduction from the UMI microform.