The examination of the passage to motherhood from conception to post-partum has revealed many similarities and some differences between socialist and capitalist societies. We noted the similarity in the material and social conditions under which reproductive choices on the timing and number of children are made (e.g. age, marital and financial status, medical management of pregnancy and childbirth). Contrasting experiences were seen in the later initiation of sexual intercourse among Czech teenagers, the reliance on abortion as the major method of birth control, the exclusion of fathers from prenatal classes and the maternity hospital (related for most part to specific socialist conceptions of what constitutes womanhood and, in turn, sex equality), and lesser reliance on bottle-feeding in the first few months after birth. We have also noted the extent to which reproduction has become dominated by professional medicine and state population policies.


Maternity Care Political Elite Maternity Leave Reproductive Choice Socialist Society 
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  1. 1.
    Illegal movements do not, of course, require state permission. The first samizdad feminist almanac, Women and Russia, which included moving descriptions of inhuman, assembly-like medical management of abortions and childbirths (without an anaesthetic), was produced without the permission of the Soviet party—state authorities. However, several of the contributors to the almanac were subsequently expelled from the Soviet Union and are now living in exile in the West.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    As Harding (1984, p. 309) argues, the socialist state regards dissidence and confiict as ‘signs of individual morbidity or social malaise, outside, rather than constitutive of, politics’.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    I am indebted to Maria Victor-Paez for her insights and wording on the issues raised in this paragraph.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Alena Heitlinger 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alena Heitlinger
    • 1
  1. 1.Trent UniversityOntarioCanada

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