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Narratives of the Pregnant Body: The Stories of Women in the Latter Stages of Pregnancy

Johnson, Sally (2002) Narratives of the Pregnant Body: The Stories of Women in the Latter Stages of Pregnancy. In: Narrative, Memory and Life Transitions. University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, pp. 103-111.

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Becoming a mother is conceptualised as an important life transition in the
social sciences. In this chapter I present narratives of six women in the latter
stages of pregnancy. The study from which these narratives are drawn aimed to
investigate the meaning of changes in weight, body image and eating
behaviour in the context of the transition to motherhood and the women’s lives
more generally. Previous research suggests that pregnancy and the postpartum
period is a time of significant changes in weight, body satisfaction and eating
behaviours for many women, and that these might have implications for their
health and well being. However, most of this research does not explore how
experience is constructed. The qualitative study from which these accounts are
drawn took a narrative psychological approach within a material-discursive
framework. It aimed to address the following questions: How do women
construct reality to make sense of their lived and embodied experience of
pregnancy? What possibilities or limitations do their stories create for them?
Negative narratives of pregnancy as transgressing idealised femininity ie. the
slender ideal, were evident in the women’s stories. However, these dominant
cultural narratives of what women should look like were also resisted and
pregnancy narratives allowed for being larger and a relaxation of dietary
restraint for most, but not all, of the women. Anticipation of the postpartum
period further highlighted dominant narratives of femininity, as the importance
of regaining control over the transgressive body was emphasised. It is
concluded that until more positive and empowering alternative narratives of the
pregnant body are available, the transition to motherhood with regard to the
meaning of changes in weight, body image and eating behaviour is likely to
cause problems for both individual women and society.

Item Type: Book Chapter
Additional Information: Copyright for chapters remain with individual authors at all times and permission should be sought from the author for any reproduction other than for personal use.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Schools: School of Human and Health Sciences > Narrative and Memory Research Group > Narrative and Memory Research Group Annual Conference
School of Human and Health Sciences
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Depositing User: Cherry Edmunds
Date Deposited: 16 Jul 2009 08:53
Last Modified: 04 Sep 2015 21:32


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