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4 - What about Birth?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 June 2012

Amy Mullin
Affiliation:
University of Toronto
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Summary

INTRODUCTION: THE OVEREMPHASIS ON BIRTH

As I mentioned in the introduction to this book, although I write about three important stages of reproductive labor – pregnancy, birth, and the provision of child care to young children – I do not devote a full-length chapter to birth, for several reasons. First, it is striking that only childbirth typically gets called “labor,” while the other, more time-consuming aspects of reproductive labor, which require sustained effort and considerable skill and expertise, do not. A pregnant woman is described as “going into labor” when she begins to give birth to a child or having a labor that lasted nineteen hours, as if the previous months have not involved reproductive labor on her part and as if the labor will end when the child is born.

Next, probably because of the dramatic nature of birth, women's conscious experiences and accounts of pregnancy are already focused more on birth than on either the preceding nine months or the transition to becoming a parent. A study of 329 Finnish women reveals that women's fears relating to pregnancy and childbirth are mainly associated with childbirth (Melender 2002), especially concerning pain and distress during labor, their risk of caesarean section, their treatment by health care staff, and the health of their newborn babies. In addition to fear and anxiety, many women expect to feel great joy at birth, and so this emotionally loaded brief period can come to dominate their thoughts during pregnancy.

Type
Chapter
Information
Reconceiving Pregnancy and Childcare
Ethics, Experience, and Reproductive Labor
, pp. 106 - 118
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2005

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  • What about Birth?
  • Amy Mullin, University of Toronto
  • Book: Reconceiving Pregnancy and Childcare
  • Online publication: 05 June 2012
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511814280.005
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  • What about Birth?
  • Amy Mullin, University of Toronto
  • Book: Reconceiving Pregnancy and Childcare
  • Online publication: 05 June 2012
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511814280.005
Available formats
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Send book to Google Drive

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

  • What about Birth?
  • Amy Mullin, University of Toronto
  • Book: Reconceiving Pregnancy and Childcare
  • Online publication: 05 June 2012
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511814280.005
Available formats
×