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The Baby Bump Project

The Study

The Aims of the Baby Bump Project

It is the aim of this project to:

  • investigate how the pregnant body is constructed in Australia based on the narratives of pregnant women of varying social class and ethnic backgrounds at each stage of pregnancy. 
  • gain an understanding of how women of varying backgrounds experience their pregnant body in public and private spaces. 
  •  understand how pregnant women use the concepts of the body, the self and identity in their narratives and how these differ from those constructed by biomedicine, culture and feminisms.
  • understand how pregnant women interpret the cultural scripts or norms for appropriate behaviour and comportment during pregnancy, surrounding motherhood in the media (eg pregnant body image, exercise, celebrity pregnancy).

 

There have been few significant studies underlining the complexity of the pregnant body, particularly ones that consider women’s own voices or narratives as powerful sites of analysis:
  1. Few longitudinal studies have tracked women’s experiences and emotions for the entire duration of pregnancy and the relationship of a pregnant woman to her changing body.
  2. A number of studies focus on the postpartum body rather than the pregnant body.
  3. Many studies about motherhood focus on Anglo-Saxon, English-speaking, educated, employed, and middle-class women as the participant population

 In addition, a number of studies generalise that pregnant women feel uncomfortable in public spaces due to their changing bodies. However, given the multitude of images of pregnant women in the media in the last few years, I think the attitudes surrounding appropriate pregnant behaviour and images of pregnancy have evolved from this dominant image paradigm and many pregnant women feel comfortable being seen in public and talking about pregnancy.

 

 Study of the body is especially interesting for contemporary feminism because of the emphasis on thinness and beauty for women in popular culture. As pregnancy does not conform to this cultural paradigm of thinness, I believe researching the pregnant body will make an important contribution to these debates.

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Would you like to participate? Contact Meredith on babybumpproject@yahoo.com.au