Childbearing and the Changing Nature of Parenthood: The Contexts, Actors, and Experiences of Having Children: Volume 14

Cover of Childbearing and the Changing Nature of Parenthood: The Contexts, Actors, and Experiences of Having Children

Table of contents

(11 chapters)

Prelims

Pages i-xix
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Abstract

Purpose – Using elective egg and sperm freezing as a case to compare representations of men and women as agents of biological reproduction, this chapter aims to understand how gender and risk are co-produced in the context of new reproductive technologies (NRTs).

Methodology – Through a content analysis of newspaper articles published between 1980 and 2016 about egg and sperm freezing, the author traces how fertility risks facing men and women are portrayed in the media.

Findings – Candidates for egg freezing were portrayed in one of the three ways: as cancer patients, career women, or single and waiting for a partner. The ideal users of sperm freezing are depicted in primarily two ways: as cancer patients and as employees in professions with hazardous working conditions. Threats to future fertility for women pursuing careers uninterrupted by pregnancy and child-rearing and women seeking romantic partners are largely portrayed as the result of internal risks. However, threats to future fertility for men working in dangerous professions are largely portrayed as external to them.

Research Limitations – Race and class did not emerge as dominant themes in these data; given the lack of accessibility to NRTs by class and race, this silence must be interrogated by further research.

Value – By comparing the constructions of at-risk groups, the author argues the medicalization of reproduction is gendered as fertility risks portrayed in the media take on a different character between men and women. This research shows how the gendered construction of infertility risk reinforces normative expectations around child-rearing and perpetuates gender inequity in parenting norms.

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Purpose – The transition into motherhood is a major life course event for most women, and is one that can be fraught with difficulties due to the uncertainty and instability which accompanies it. Previous research has explored what factors interplay within this transition with identity changes being considered a key attribute. By using assemblage theory, this study aims to undertake an innovative approach to conceptualising identity. Assemblage theory permitted an exploration of how an identity comes to be assembled and embodied through a mother’s relationality with the social world around her as opposed to merely exploring identity as a static entity of a fixed, organic whole as has predominantly been done previously. Assemblage theory is premised upon understanding processes of becoming as opposed to states of being and as such takes a machinic approach to understanding wholes. Rather than being organic totalities, they are conceptualised as being transient and fluid entities comprising an amalgamation of interchangeable components which collectively stabilise to make up the whole. At times of change, an individual’s ties to an identity undergo deterritorialisation, or weaken, as their sense of self and identity readjusts before then experiencing reterritorialisation once they (re)established their ties to a new identity or role. By conceptualising the mothers as assemblages in this manner, it became possible to understand how the women reconstructed their selves and identities through the situated practices and experiences in their everyday lives as they established ties to their new role as a mother.

Methodology/Approach – Results are presented from biographical narrative interviews with 10 mothers each at different stages in motherhood. The interviews focussed on inducing uninterrupted narratives detailing the lived experiences of these women as they transitioned into and across motherhood. These interviews highlighted key stages in the transition into motherhood where a woman’s identity and sense of self would become destabilised and reformulated as a result of changes in her everyday lived experiences and routines.

Findings – Transitioning into motherhood proved to be a multifaceted process that comprises numerous stages where the new mothers identities would become unstable and deterritorialise as they faced new routines in their everyday life as they became a mother and settled into the role. Four dominant themes emerged during data analysis; emotional turmoil, the reconstruction of relationships, getting comfortable with their baby as well as rediscovering the self. The women largely experienced emotional turmoil as their identities became deterritorialised and reported that the relationships they held with others around them often changed or broke down entirely. It was not until they became comfortable with their baby and their role as a mother that they were able to rediscover their ‘self’ beyond simply being a mother. Once they reached this stage in the transition their identity was able to reterritorialise, becoming more stable as a result.

Originality/Value – This study not only presents an innovative method for conceptualising identity but also demonstrates the value of assemblage theory for conceptualising identity formulation and capturing the fluid and emergent nature of such processes. It demonstrates how assemblage theory can be utilised to further understandings of the multifaceted and ongoing nature of life course transitions. This study sheds light on the potential for assemblage theory to be utilised across a range of sociological topics relating to identity formulation, with such studies having the potential to really broaden the scope of sociological understandings of identity formation and life course transitions.

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The current study aims to use bioecological theory to examine the effects of different contextual factors such as husbands’ desire for children, visit by a family planning worker, media messages, and province level on women’s use of contraception in Pakistan. Two cross-sectional data sets were taken from the Pakistan Demographic and Health Surveys (PDHS), conducted in 2006–07 and 2012–13, which included 3,811 and 4,871 currently married, lower socioeconomic status (SES) women aged 15–49 years, respectively. Using logistic regression, the results showed that women’s perception of a husband’s desire for children and visit by family planning workers were significant predictors of women’s use of contraception in both periods (i.e. PDHS 2006–07 and PDHS, 2012–13). Specifically, those women who had a desire for children similar to their husband were more likely to use contraception than those who either were not sure about their husband’s desire for children or whose desire for children was less or more than their husband. Moreover, those women who had at least one visit from a family planning worker during the 12 months prior to the survey were more likely to use contraception than their counterparts.

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Although birth-preparation classes are the most important institution for parents-to-be, they have largely been disregarded in sociological research. This empirical study aims to examine the role birth-preparation classes in Germany play in the extensive gendering during the transition to parenthood. We combine ethnography of birth-preparation classes with a content analysis of text material offered by professional associations of midwives. This empirical investigation aims to show that today’s birth-preparation classes highlight differences between men and women as well as between women without children and mothers, interconnect them with gendered attributions of child care and labor and legitimize these differences through naturalization. Thus, birth-preparation classes introduce a gendered distribution of labor as early as the antenatal phase and thereby function as institutions promoting a process of regendering and retraditionalization.

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This research studied the integration of Ontario midwives into the hospital system, through analysis of 15 semi-structured interviews with midwives throughout the Canadian province. In 1994, following activism from parents and families who wanted “alternative” choices for childbearing, Ontario became the first Canadian province to legislate and publicly fund midwives. This followed nearly a century in which midwifery had all but disappeared in Canada, in part due to deliberate campaigns to discredit woman-centered health care and knowledge. The findings from this research were considered through the lens of Foucault’s concept of power/knowledge, to identify the ways in which medicalized norms have been privileged in Ontario birth care, and to demonstrate how pregnant people1 and midwives have struggled against the power/knowledge of hospital environments. This research looked at the ways that midwifery, as a social movement born of feminist and countercultural activism, offers possibilities for resisting disciplinary power. Midwives in Ontario offer an alternative to medicalized childbirth which recognizes that a birth caregiver’s role is not only the physical care of parents and babies, but guidance for families during a liminal experience – the birth of a new child, which changes a family permanently and profoundly.

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Turkish mothers’ interactions with medical authorities during pregnancy and childbirth have developed in a context of risk discourses produced by biomedical experts with surveillance justified by these discourses. Giving meaning to pregnancy and childbirth through the search for the reduction of risks is a reflexive part of Turkish mothers’ everyday life.

This research paper aims to discuss a study examining how pregnancy and childbirth are socially constructed, how increased medicalization is experienced by Turkish mothers, and how they assign meaning to pregnancy and childbirth. A phenomenological research was designed using depth interviews with 10 Turkish mothers with children aged 0–6 years, living in Istanbul who had high education and welfare levels.

The findings shed light on Turkish mothers’ subjective experiences and how medicine as a profession shapes these experiences. With the medicalization of pregnancy and childbirth, how the trust toward the experts, the knowledge of preparation for maternity in an appropriate and responsible manner have become functional for Turkish mothers to create a sense of ontological security are examined.

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Purpose – Despite the rising number of unmarried and/or divorced parents, negative stereotypes of single parents are still prevalent. The current study aims to explore attitudes toward single mothers (choice vs circumstance) and personal willingness to become single parents in the future.

Design/Methodology/Approach – The current study used a 10-item Likert scale inventory to assess 230 female respondents’ attitudes toward fictitious single mothers; five open-ended questions explored advantages/challenges faced by each mother, and a single-item Likert scale assessed willingness to become a single mother by choice.

Findings – Although young adults (18–25 years) reported more positivity toward single mothers compared to adults (26–79 years), both groups were unwilling to become single mothers by choice. Qualitative findings suggested participants identified more advantages associated with being a single mother by choice (as compared to by circumstance).

Research Limitations/Implications – The majority of the sample consisted of “young adults” (undergraduates) ages 18–25, while the “adult” sample combined multiple generations ages 26–79, resulting in an unbalanced age distribution between groups.

Originality/Value – Few studies have acknowledged the existence of single mothers by choice; the current research provided supporting evidence that attitudes toward single mothers are increasingly more positive among Millennials despite unwillingness to become a single mother by choice in the future.

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In the twenty-first century, the family has been turning towards a greater plurality of training paths, situations, family and parental arrangements. However, despite changes in legislation, values, representations and practices, the word family remains inexorably associated with the heterosexual bi-parental model. This paper aims to contribute to the knowledge of the family dynamics of non-heterosexual people, mainly concerning the process of transition to parenting, in relation to family changes in Portuguese society. To do so this study aims to analyze four in-depth interviews1 with young adults, women and men who have a homoconjugality relationship and a project of parenting in mind.

Based on a qualitative methodology the study intends to discuss issues related to the challenge of heteronormativity, equality within the couple, projects and gender representations of parenthood and in particular what it means for the men and women interviewed, to be a father and to be a mother in a same sex couple and how they project themselves as fathers and mothers.

The study discusses all these issues always in relation to the biographical trajectories, the history and life as a couple and the structural and individual resources, such as school and professional qualifications. It also analyzes the main difficulties experienced in revealing their sexuality to the significant others and the difficulties / strategies they anticipate in relation to the parenting project.

The authors conclude that female interviewees show greater independence of a male figure in relation to their parental projects and anticipate less difficulty in their parental skills compared with the gay man interviewed.

To analyze the dynamics of parenting in same-sex couples, this study also points out to the need to construct a model of analysis capable of articulating structural factors, such as job insecurity and heteronormativity, biographies and individual resources and profiles of conjugal interactions.

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Six African-American, heterosexual couples with a toddler son in a southeastern United States county were interviewed about their beliefs and practices. Couples shared reflections of joys and challenges in their lives right before and during the pregnancy, delivery and right after the birth of their son. Through thematic analysis, results showed that most parents shared similar experiences of planning the pregnancy, breastfeeding from birth, and both being involved in caregiving. However, variability in preparation, emotions, and adjustment existed during this period. Although differential pregnancy outcomes could be race-related (i.e. gestational period length and preterm delivery), other aspects of this universal experience were similar to the average couple in the United States. This study aims to consider the implications for how race might impact the variability across families.

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Index

Pages 209-215
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Cover of Childbearing and the Changing Nature of Parenthood: The Contexts, Actors, and Experiences of Having Children
DOI
10.1108/S1530-3535201914
Publication date
2019-11-25
Book series
Contemporary Perspectives in Family Research
Editors
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-83867-067-2
Book series ISSN
1530-3535