Advertisement

Embodying Pregnancy and Self-Surveillance

  • Kate Cregan
Chapter

Abstract

Women are regularly subjected to public scrutiny, commentary, and unsolicited touching of their bodies, especially when visibly pregnant. This chapter examines how women embody medical and popular discourses that encourage self-surveillance from pre-pregnancy through to birth. It also explores how women respond emotionally to, and negotiate external surveillance during, their pregnancies. Pregnant women are exposed to a wealth of medical advice in maternal nutrition, habits, and caring practices that are largely concerned with the wellbeing of the projected child-to-be. By listening to the stories women tell about their lived experience, this chapter reveals how surveillance and vigilance work to reproduce an ephemeral notion of the ‘perfect mother’ of that future child and the ways that women respond to this ideal.

Keywords

Pregnancy Self-surveillance Vigilance Embodiment Health Motherhood 

References

  1. Bourdieu, P. (1977). Outline of a theory of practice (R. Nice, Trans.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Brynner, R. L., & Stephens, T. D. (2001). Dark remedy: The impact of thalidomide and its revival as a vital medicine. Cambridge, MA: Perseus.Google Scholar
  3. Cregan, K. (2009). The theatre of the body: Staging life and embodying death in early-modern London. Turnhout: Brepols Publishers.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Department of Health & Human Services. (2017). Pregnancy and diet. Retrieved from https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/pregnancy-and-diet.
  5. Duden, B. (1991). The woman beneath the skin: A doctor’s patients in eighteenth-century Germany (T. Dunlap, Trans.). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Duden, B. (1993). Disembodying women: Perspectives on pregnancy and the unborn (L. Hoinacki, Trans.). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Franklin, S. (1997). Embodied progress: A cultural account of assisted conception. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Gubrium, J. F., & Holstein, J. A. (2014). Narrative practice and the transformation of interview subjectivity. In J. F. Gubrium, J. A. Holstein, A. B. Marvasti, & K. D. McKinney (Eds.), The Sage handbook of interview research: The complexity of the craft. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  9. Martin, E. (1992). The woman in the body: A cultural analysis of reproduction. Boston: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
  10. Ngo, A. D., Taylor, R., Roberts, C. L., & Nguyen, T. V. (2006). Association between Agent Orange and birth defects: Systematic review and meta-analysis. International Journal of Epidemiology, 35, 1220–1230.Google Scholar
  11. Rapp, R. (2001). Gender, body, biomedicine: How some feminist concerns dragged reproduction to the centre of social theory. Medical Anthropology Quarterly, 15(4), 466–477.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Rapp, R. (2011). Reproductive entanglements: Body, state and culture in the dys/regulation of child-bearing. Social Research, 78(3), 693–718.Google Scholar
  13. Strathern, M. (1992). Reproducing the future: Anthropology, kinship and the new reproductive technologies. Manchester: Manchester University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kate Cregan
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Graduate ResearchRMIT UniversityMelbourneAustralia

Personalised recommendations