Communication Experiences of Pregnant Women: An Exploratory Investigation

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Communication Studies

First Advisor

John C. Meyer

Advisor Department

Communication Studies


This dissertation studied the communication experiences of expectant mothers. Blumer's Symbolic Interaction was used as the foundation for understanding meaning created in pregnancy communication experiences. Brown and Levinson's (1987) Theory of Politeness was applied to help understand the experiences of pregnant women. Through grounded theory methods three data sets were used to study communication and pregnancy. First, personal participants completed a questionnaire, conducted email journaling, and were interviewed. Second, mediated participants in the form of online diaries and online discussion boards were dissected for relevant communication events. Through the grounded theory method four themes developed from the communication events provided in the three data sets: directed personal comments, general counsel, inquiries, and nonverbal. Three categories of reactions were prevalent: constructive, destructive, and uncertainty. Participants provided personal interpretations of their pregnancy communication experiences. Those interpretations fell into two categories: interest in pregnancy and treatment of women. Implications of this research include lack of politeness and etiquette, competition, and enculturation process. A new theory of pregnancy and communication is presented through the development of a storyline and practical suggestions for what not to say or do to a pregnant woman.