Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 June 2012
Both pregnancy and the provision of childcare are socially valued only (if at all) in relation to the child borne or reared. There is very little interest in the experiences of pregnant women or in the few men and many women who are primary providers of childcare, either paid or unpaid. There is some social interest in questions about how to increase the likelihood of positive outcomes for pregnancy and the provision of childcare, but these positive outcomes are thought of solely in terms of the types of pregnancy and childcare that are most beneficial for the children, either expected or already born.
Very little attention is paid to what these experiences mean to pregnant women or to the men and women providing childcare and to what can make those experiences better or worse. Moreover, these experiences are thought to be of interest only to those who have them. It is assumed that those who are not and never plan to be pregnant and those who do not and never plan to provide childcare have nothing to learn from reflecting on those experiences.
This is so partly because the experiences are misconceived as belonging solely to the natural rather than also to the social realm, and in fact any challenges to the naturalness of these experiences, particularly when the role of biology is separated from the activity of caring for a fetus or a child, are harshly critiqued and presented as undue interferences of the social order with the natural order.