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Ethnography of pregnancy in our culture Powell, Martha Bauder 1972

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AN ETHNOGRAPHY OF PREGNANCY IN OUR CULTURE  by B.Sc,  Martha Bauder P o w e l l P e n n s y l v a n i a S t a t e U n i v e r s i t y , 1956  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS  i n the Department of A n t h r o p o l o g y and S o c i o l o g y  •Me accept t h i s t h e s i s as conforming t o required standard  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA September, 1972  the  In  presenting  this  an advanced degree the I  Library  further  for  agree  f u l f i Vment o f  at  of  the  make  that  it  University freely  permission for  this  representatives. thesis  for  It  financial  for  extensive by  the  gain  of  The U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h Columbia Vancouver 8, Canada  shall  not  the  requirements  Columbia, reference  copying o f Head o f  i s u n d e r s t o o d that  written permission.  Department  British  available  s c h o l a r l y purposes may be g r a n t e d  by h i s of  shall  t h e s i s " in p a r t i a l  I  agree  and this  that  study. thesis  my Department  copying or  for  or  publication  be a l l o w e d w i t h o u t my  i  ABSTRACT  The essay d e s c r i b e s e t h n o g r a p h i c a l l y some o f the s p e c i a l experience's o f married women d u r i n g pregnancy.  Data  were c o l l e c t e d among middle c l a s s women i n Vancouver, B r i t i s h Columbia, by means o f o b s e r v a t i o n , i n t e r v i e w s , and a q u e s t i o n naire . M a t e r i a l r e l a t e s t o 1) the s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s h i p s o f pregnant  women to other people, 2) some o f the s o c i a l customs  p r a c t i c e d during pregnancy, 3 ) the s o c i a l readjustments  which  occur as a r e s u l t o f pregnancy, and li) p r e c o n c e i v e d n o t i o n s about pregnancy i n o u r c u l t u r e . The essay concludes  t h a t d u r i n g pregnancy, c e r t a i n  kinds of communication w i t h o t h e r persons  (particularly kin,  good f r i e n d s , and medical personnel) provide a means by which women l e a r n t o o r i e n t themselves  to the p h y s i c a l and s o c i a l  r e a l i t i e s o f pregnancy and motherhood.  T h i s communication  e n t a i l s the mutual exchange o f knowledge and f e e l i n g s , and the content and f u n c t i o n of these exchanges are d i s c u s s e d .  Supervisor  TABLE OP CONTENTS  ABSTRACT E.  INTRODUCTION  II.  BASIC OBSERVATIONS  I I I . MAKING THE ANNOUNCEMENT I V . CARE AND SUPPORT V.  CONCLUSIONS BIBLIOGRAPHY APPENDIX  H i  LIST OP FIGURES  -Page FIGURE 1  K i n who have a r i g h t to know f i r s t about a pregnancy ( s o l i d a r e a s ) and those who may be t o l d second ( shaded areas) . , . . 31 1  FIGURE >P  F i v e spheres o f communication d u r i n g pregnancy and t h e i r rel a t i o n s h i p t o each o t h e r 50  FIGURE 3  Parameters which d i s t i n g u i s h between spheres o f communication d u r i n g pregnancy . . . .  51  1  I. P r e g n a n c y and  INTRODUCTION  childbirth  major p a r t o f the a d u l t female cause  of t h e i r u n i v e r s a l i t y ,  the s o c i a l  customs  t u r a l and  since  full  descriptions  f o r the b i r t h  social milestones  i t changes h e r s t a t u s and  anthropology,  ethnographic  role  such d e s c r i p t i o n s  childbirth  ethnographies  on  these  This paper  of  cul-  of c h i l d r e n i s  i n a woman's  life,  in society.  exist  though g e n e r a l l y speaking,  p r e g n a n c y and  a  Be-  s u r r o u n d i n g them c o u l d p r o v i d e v a l u a b l e  significant  A few  s h a r e d by  p o p u l a t i o n the w o r l d o v e r .  cross-cultural material,  among t h e most  are experiences  a r e uncommon.  s u b j e c t s do n o t  i n the  literature  full  descriptions  1  F o r o u r own  of of  culture,  2  exist.  p r o v i d e s an e t h n o g r a p h i c  account  o f some  of  t h e s p e c i a l e x p e r i e n c e s m a r r i e d women have d u r i n g p r e g n a n c y .  It  shows t h a t t h e s e p e r i o d s i n a woman's l i f e  biological  episodes.  The  nature  and  scope  a r e more  of t h e i r  than  social  1.  See B i b l i o g r a p h y f o r a p a r t i a l l i s t o f e t h n o g r a p h i e s i n which pregnancy i s mentioned. 2. References: An I n v e n t o r y o f F a m i l y R e s e a r c h S t u d i e s i n Canada (1963-1967). O t t a w a : V a n i e r I n s t i t u t e o f the F a m i l y , 1967. I n t e r n a t i o n a l B i b l i o g r a p h y o f R e s e a r c h i n M a r r i a g e and t h e - Family 1900-I9bl;7 Minneapolis: University of MinnesoTa Press, 1967. Mogey, J o h n . S o c i o l o g y o f M a r r i a g e and F a m i l y B e h a v i o r 195719o7« The Hague: Mouton, 1969. C-oode, W i l l i a m J . ; H o p k i n s , E l i z a b e t h ; M c C l u r e , H e l e n M. S o c i a l Systems and F a m i l y P a t t e r n s . I n d i a n a p o l i s : Bobbs M e r r i l l Co., 1 9 7 1 . S o c i o l o g i c a l A b s t r a c t s , I963- p r e s e n t . -  2  relevance i s the s u b j e c t of the  paper.  Data f o r the study were c o l l e c t e d i n the Vancouver, B r i t i s h Columbia, m e t r o p o l i t a n area over a p e r i o d o f approxi m a t e l y f i f t e e n months. pregnant  The data c o n s i s t o f o b s e r v a t i o n  women were observed  i n everyday  w e l l as i n t e r v i e w s w i t h s e l e c t e d  (i.e.,  s o c i a l c o n t a c t s ) , as  informants, who  were chosen  because they gave i n f o r m a t i o n e a s i l y and because they showed a g e n e r a l sense o f s o c i a l awareness. time,  I was  pregnancy.  Por a p o r t i o n o f t h i s  myself a p a r t i c i p a n t observer, d u r i n g my My  Informants  own  second  were chosen from among married women  e n r o l l e d i n p r e n a t a l c l a s s e s sponsored  by the Vancouver Metro-  p o l i t a n H e a l t h S e r v i c e s and by the N a t i o n a l C h i l d b i r t h T r u s t . Most of them were having t h e i r f i r s t babies, and a l l but  one  were i n t e r v i e w e d two months to one week p r i o r to the estimated date o f b i r t h .  The  lone e x c e p t i o n had g i v e n b i r t h ,  f i v e weeks b e f o r e the i n t e r v i e w .  prematurely,  The scope of the study  inclu-  des the nine-month p e r i o d o f pregnancy but not c h i l d b i r t h By f a r the m a j o r i t y o f informants were young w i t h Grade 12 o r h i g h e r education, married to men grounds.  An e f f o r t was  Caucasians  of s i m i l a r back-  made to keep the sample f a i r l y  Some o f the women were employed and  itself.  uniform.  of these a few planned  to  r e t u r n to work a f t e r the b i r t h of the baby, though t h i s was exception.  T h e i r husbands were s t e a d i l y employed at jobs ranging  from s k i l l e d l a b o u r to p r o f e s s i o n a l p o s i t i o n s . r e l a t i v e comfort life  the  A l l lived in  and a n t i c i p a t e d some degree o f advancement i n  s t y l e i n the f u t u r e .  T h e i r o r i e n t a t i o n was,  loosely,  speaking,  3  middle  class.  G e n e r a l l y , t h i s i s the k i n d of person who a v a i l s  h e r s e l f o f the s e r v i c e s of p r e n a t a l c l a s s e s , though they a r e open to everyone.  *  The m a t e r i a l I gathered proved r e l e v a n t f o r the study i n s e v e r a l ways, as those p e r t a i n i n g t o : 1) the r e l a t i o n s h i p o f pregnant  women t o f a m i l y members,  f r i e n d s , p r o f e s s i o n a l medical personnel, s t r a n g e r s , and c a s u a l acquaintances.  Of I n t e r e s t were r e g u l a r l y r e c u r r i n g acts and  i n f e r r e d a t t i t u d e s of v a r i o u s kinds which c l e a r l y i n d i c a t e d a s h i f t o f s t a t u s and r o l e from the pre-pregnant  state:  2) the s o c i a l customs and amenities p r a c t i c e d by and f o r pregnant women; 3) the impressions of the women themselves s o c i a l adjustments  concerning the  i n v o l v e d ; and  3) preconceived n o t i o n s concerning c h i l d b i r t h and the r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s of parenthood,  i n s o f a r as these are p a r t o f  the c u l t u r a l m i l i e u . Of course, these c a t e g o r i e s a r e not mutually e x c l u s i v e and are not t r e a t e d as such i n the r e p o r t . Work w i t h the informants was c a s u a l d u r i n g the i n i t i a l phases o f the study.  That  i s , much i n f o r m a t i o n was gathered  through c o n v e r s a t i o n s between informant and i n v e s t i g a t o r and by f o r t u i t o u s l y overhearing c o n v e r s a t i o n s o f o t h e r s .  In a d d i t i o n ,  the t a l k between t e a c h e r and students i n the p r e n a t a l c l a s s e s was instructive. During the second phase, e i g h t i n t e r v i e w s were recorded  on tape, s i x of which were used the i n t e r v i e w was  conducted  i n this report.  In each case,  i n the home o f the informant.  l a s t e d from f o r t y - f i v e to s e v e n t y - f i v e minutes.  They  Transcripts of  these were u s e f u l not only f o r t h e i r i n f o r m a t i o n content, but a l s o because they p r o v i d e d t h i s Information i n the woman's words.  B r i e f d e s c r i p t i o n s of three o f the informants  own  appear::  at the end o f t h i s c h a p t e r . Thirdly,  I elicited  f u r t h e r i n f o r m a t i o n by means of  an open-ended q u e s t i o n n a i r e , a copy of which appears dix.  Ten o f these were used Frequently,  i n r e p o r t i n g the d a t a .  I had o c c a s i o n to r e f l e c t upon my  d u a l r o l e i n t h i s p r o j e c t o f ethnographer f o r a time roles. my  own  as my me  as an Appen  own  and p a r t i c i p a n t ,  and  I questioned the seeming i n c o m p a t i b i l i t y o f these  As the p r o j e c t went on, however, i t became evident t h a t pregnant  c o n d i t i o n was  working t o my  advantage,  inasmuch  informants a c t u a l l y gave Information much more f u l l y to  i n my  pregnant  pregnant.  s t a t e than e a r l i e r i n the study when I was  A l s o , as a p a r t i c i p a n t , my  not  i n t u i t i v e f e e l f o r the  s u b j e c t p r o v i d e d a means o f i n t e r p r e t i n g the m a t e r i a l gathered from each informant.  It i s c l e a r to me  that my p e r s o n a l i n v o l v e  ment i n the s u b j e c t s e t up a p o s i t i v e c o n d i t i o n f o r M communicat ing w i t h my  informants, a f a c t o r which helped me  t o formulate  the main t h e s i s o f t h i s p r e s e n t a t i o n . D e s c r i p t i o n o f Three  Informants.  Anne, age 28, has been married f o r seven years to a c l o t h i n g salesman  at Woodward's.  This i s t h e i r f i r s t  baby.  Before marriage Anne was an a i r l i n e  stewardess,  and has main-  t a i n e d the p h y s i c a l glamour and s o c i a l responses a s s o c i a t e d w i t h that p r o f e s s i o n . for  A f t e r marriage  f i v e years i n the a i r l i n e  she worked as a s e c r e t a r y  offices  i n Vancouver.  Although she and h e r husband a r e C a t h o l i c s , p r a c t i c e d b i r t h c o n t r o l f o r the f i r s t  they  y e a r of t h e i r marriage so  that she would not be f o r c e d t o give up h e r job as a source of income, on the b e l i e f that a couple should e s t a b l i s h m a t e r i a l l y before beginning a f a m i l y . years had passed  itself  However, when s e v e r a l  and she had not become pregnant,  the couple  sought medical h e l p and, l e a r n i n g t h a t a low sperm count made pregnancy u n l i k e l y f o r them, they were i n the process o f adopting to  a baby when Anne at l a s t became pregnant.  In h e r eagerness  c o n f i r m the pregnancy, Anne had a l a b o r a t o r y t e s t  just ten  days a f t e r missing h e r p e r i o d , an u n u s u a l l y short i n t e r v a l . In h i s eagerness  t o c o n f i r m the pregnancy, her husband phoned  the doctor's o f f i c e t o o b t a i n the t e s t  r e s u l t s from work and  then proceeded  relativessand  t o t e l l h i s co-workers,  several  f r i e n d s b e f o r e r e a l i z i n g t h a t he had not y e t informed Anne. The d e v i a t i o n from normal proceedure  i s a source o f amusement  for  her, and probably occurred because he had been anxious  his  low sperm count.  about  I i n t e r v i e w e d Anne i n the n i n t h month of h e r pregnancy at  h e r home i n a new housing development i n Surrey.  of  m a t e r i a l possessions —  the f a m i l y i s c o m f o r t a b l e .  In terms  f u r n i s h i n g , c l o t h i n g , automobiles  --  They have t r a v e l e d to Europe and  A s i a by t a k i n g advantage o f employee b e n e f i t s from the a i r l i n e .  6 They e n t e r t a i n f r e q u e n t l y ^ have many f r i e n d s , but she has  few c l o s e f r i e n d s h i p s .  intense.  Parents, s i b l i n g s ,  i n Vancouver. but devote  The  I gather that  Family t i e s are c l o s e but  in-laws, and aunts and u n c l e s  couple have no hobbies  not live  or outside a c t i v i t i e s ,  a c o n s i d e r a b l e e f f o r t toward home maintenance. Anne p r o j e c t s an image of p h y s i c a l ' a n d - e m o t i o n a l  s t r e n g t h , and  I gathered at our i n t e r v i e w t h a t thes-e q u a l i t i e s  are very important  to h e r .  seemed eager f o r me thing,  A l l o f my  informants,  to b e l i e v e that they were doing the  such as t a k i n g good care of themselves  c a t i n g themselves  in fact, "right"  physically,  edu-  concerning p r o p e r - h e a l t h h a b i t s , making good  p r e p a r a t i o n s f o r i n f a n t c a r e , and mind concerning b i r t h .  adopting a p o s i t i v e  These are t h i n g s which are encouraged  i n the l i t e r a t u r e as a means o f i n s u r i n g success and f o r e , not s u r p r i s i n g l y , to communicate to me,  frame o f  the t h i n g s which my  not o n l y i n my  are, t h e r e -  informants wanted  r o l e as r e s e a r c h e r , but  also  as someone having the same e x p e r i e n c e . C a r o l was (11  the o l d e s t  (mid-30's), longest married  y e a r s ) , and most h i g h l y educated  (two M.A.(a) o f informants.  Yet these f a c t o r s d i d not make h e r s i g n i f i c a n t l y d i f f e r e n t the others as concerns This  her pregnancy.  i s not t o say t h a t t h e r e was  h e r h a n d l i n g of the s i t u a t i o n , way  birth.  nothing unusual i n  f o r she had chosen an unorthodox  of announcing her pregnancy, which was  at a l l to out-of-town  from  not to announce i t  r e l a t i v e s and f r i e n d s u n t i l a f t e r the baby's  In f a c t , her p l a n d i d not work, f o r C a r o l ended up  tell-  ing her mother d u r i n g the seventh month i n o r d e r to i n s u r e that  7 she  would not h e a r the  lives  nearby.  worry about  She  news s e c o n d h a n d f r o m a r e l a t i v e  said  that  h e r d u r i n g the  a l s o c a r i n g f o r an a i l i n g however,  it  emerged  that  she h a d n o t  pregnancy sister.  relates  to  before,  and  w i t h i n the  life  hood f r i e n d s quently  in Vancouver.  and l i v e  They had at  while  school  to  without  the  living before  in Library  time  that  her  child-  fre-  of  quest-  professor,  hobbies  interests intense  T h e y have  s u c h as  photo-  in literature  relationships  and  with  i n V a n c o u v e r f o r one  States,  she  at  a secondary  taught  English  r e t u r n i n g to t h e u n i v e r s i t y  who i s  to  about  Islands,  As t h e r e  Charlotte City  marriage  and had a line  had  and c r u e l .  a librarian  i n the  of  i n South Vancouver.  lived  she  secret  to get  year, school. in a  Science.  Queen C h a r l o t t e  a m i n i n g camp.  as  had worked as  Suzanne, In the  stated  children,  They s h a r e  as w e l l  quietly,  d u r i n g w h i c h she  degree  tactless  development  g r a p h y and m o t o r c a r s ,  Secondary  was  as  instead  style  consid-  keep t h e  and h e r h u s b a n d Tom, a u n i v e r s i t y  i n a new h o u s i n g  Previously,  d i d n ' t have  i n North Dakota,  tradition,  life  no k i n l i v i n g  conversation,  h e r p l a n to  education  to  was  g o s s i p w h i c h she  had n e v e r u n d e r s t o o d h e r  a s k e d h e r why she  friends.  of  She  Carol  music,  by s e e k i n g  felt  when she  i n our  community.  i o n i n g which C a r o l  live  focus  t o b r e a k from t h i s  a p p a r e n t l y done family  a time  Later  and meddlesome,, and so  her desire  wanted h e r m o t h e r  i n h e r s m a l l home town  news o f p r e g n a n c y becomes the ered degrading  at  who  was  20,  became  pregnant  living  where h e r h u s b a n d was w o r k i n g  no d o c t o r n e a r b y ,  a doctor to  while  she  was  confirm her c o n d i t i o n ,  flown as  at out  well  8 as f o r r e g u l a r monthly check-ups, health.  although she was i n e x c e l l e n t  Had they stayed there, she would have been flown to  Vancouver o r C h a r l o t t e C i t y p r i o r to h e r due date to make sure that the baby could be born i n a h o s p i t a l , w i t h a d o c t o r i n attendance.  The only medical p e r s o n n e l a v a i l a b l e at the camp  were an i n d u s t r i a l f i r s t - a i d man and a former nurse. However, the couple moved to Vancouver when Suzanne was f o u r months pregnant. to  S h o r t l y t h e r e a f t e r , they made a t r i p  the I n t e r i o r to announce the pregnancy to r e l a t i v e s ,  an aunt who l i v e s i n Vancouver thought have c a l l e d home immediately  although  t h a t they r e a l l y should  to l e t h e r mother know, r a t h e r  than w a i t i n g to t e l l h e r i n person.  In s p i t e of a l l the advice  her mother o f f e r e d concerning how she should care f o r h e r s e l f d u r i n g pregnancy, Suzanne had c o n s i s t e n t l y d i s r e g a r d e d t h i s and p r e f e r r e d to ask the d o c t o r o r p u b l i c h e a l t h n u r s e s .  9 II.  BASIC OBSERVATIONS  The average m a r r i e d Canadian woman has 2.I4 c h i l d r e n , a s t a t i s t i c which i s r e l e v a n t i n t h i s study f o r two First,  reasons.  i t p r o v i d e s a p e r s p e c t i v e from w h i c h ^ t o ^ v i e w  my sample o f i n f o r m a n t s . and on the a v e r a g e ,  Most were pregnant  f o r the  f i r s t time,  c o u l d expect to be pregnant a g a i n o n l y once  o r a t most two more t i m e s .  So a l t h o u g h the sample i s h e a v i l y  weighted i n the d i r e c t i o n of f i r s t p r e g n a n c i e s , future  3  i n l i g h t of  e x p e c t a t i o n , however, t h i s f a c t does not s e r i o u s l y  d e t r a c t from i t s  representativeness.  Secondly,  (and more i m p o r t a n t ) the s t a t i s t i c  shows  that during her t h i r t y - f i v e years of r e p r o d u c t i v e c a p a c i t y , a woman i n our c u l t u r e f u l f i l l s  t h i s p h y s i c a l p o t e n t i a l only  two o r t h r e e t i m e s , a f a c t which makes each pregnancy an event i n w h i c h a woman i n v e s t s a c o n s i d e r a b l e amount o f thought and emotional energy.  The f a c t  t h a t c o n t r a c e p t i o n and a b o r t i o n are  a c c e p t e d b o t h i n s p i r i t and i n f a c t , the time t o become pregnant  means t h a t one may choose  somewhat at w i l l ,  >when c e r t a i n  economic and p h y s i c a l l i v i n g c o n d i t i o n s are " r i g h t " . a woman t r i e s t o do the " r i g h t " and m e d i c a l l y accepted  Likewise, things  d u r i n g pregnancy i n o r d e r t o i n s u r e a safe d e l i v e r y and a normal 3.  Reference; M i t r a , S . ; Romaniuk, A . P a r s o n i a n Type I Curve - - F e r t i l i t y Projection Potential. Paper p r e s e n t e d at American S t a t i s t i c a l A s s o c i a t i o n A n n u a l M e e t i n g , Aug. 15, 1972.  10  baby, f a c t o r s w h i c h she f e e l s are a l l the more e s s e n t i a l  since  she w i l l have t h i s e x p e r i e n c e so seldom. In r e c e n t y e a r s a growing number o f r e a d i l y a v a i l a b l e p u b l i c a t i o n s d e s c r i b e pregnancy and c h i l d b i r t h as e m o t i o n a l l y and s p i r i t u a l l y f u l f i l l i n g  events i n a woman's l i f e ,  thus c o n d i t i o n i n g women t o view t h e i r p r e g n a n c i e s p e r s o n a l events i n w h i c h t h e y themselves  as  and are intensely  take major r e s p o n s i b i l i t y  and from which they g a i n s p e c i a l r e w a r d s . Another recent  t r e n d takes t h i s g l o r i f i c a t i o n o f p r e g -  nancy a s t e p f u r t h e r by p r e p a r i n g the h u s b a n d - f a t h e r h i s pregnant  w i f e and a s s i s t  Some p r e n a t a l c l a s s e s  for  h e r d u r i n g l a b o u r and d e l i v e r y .  specifically stress this option.  t h i s t r e n d i s r e l e v a n t f o r two r e a s o n s . it  to c a r e  i s r a r e t o f i n d the h u s b a n d - f a t h e r  Culturally,  First, cross-culturally  d i r e c t l y i n v o l v e d i n any  support c a p a c i t y d u r i n g the b i r t h o f c h i l d r e n , except  through  such i n s t i t u t i o n s as the couvade, and even t h e n , he has no p h y s i c a l contact with her.  S e c o n d l y , i n o u r own urban c u l t u r e ,  have m a i n t a i n e d s t r i c t r u l e s a g a i n s t  the i n v o l v e m e n t o f men i n  t h e i r w i v e s ' d e l i v e r i e s , as t h i s i n t e r f e r e s o p e r a t i o n o f the  hospitals  w i t h the smooth  facilities.  T h i s s t e p away from s tandard a c c e p t e d p r a c t i c e reflects wife,  perhaps  a changing concept o f the r e l a t i v e r o l e s o f husband and  inasmuch as men are v o l u n t a r i l y i n v o l v i n g themselves  what has p r e v i o u s l y been the domain o f women, i . e . , These t r e n d s i n d i c a t e t h a t some e f f o r t the q u a l i t y of the  experience.  in  life-giving.  i s b e i n g made t o  heighten  11 The o p t i o n a l s o a p p a r e n t l y e x i s t s now t o  pre-determine  the sex o f the unborn c h i l d by f o l l o w i n g a procedure developed r e c e n t l y by a m e d i c a l r e s e a r c h  group.  Thus, m a r r i e d c o u p l e s have a number o f o p t i o n s , of which i s the c h o i c e t o have c h i l d r e n o r n o t ; when to become pregnant,  and how o f t e n .  basic  they may d e c i d e  Beyond t h a t , they may  choose t o manage the pregnancy and b i r t h i n a number o f m e d i c a l l y and s o c i a l l y accepted ways.  These t o p i c s are o p e n l y d i s c u s s e d  i n the p u b l i c media. P o r a l l these r e a s o n s ,  t a l k i n g with, the  informants  about the r e l e v a n t t o p i c s was open and easy i n almost every c a s e , and r e l u c t a n c e on the p a r t o f the i n f o r m a n t s to g i v e answers questions,  due to embarrassment,  was r a r e l y e n c o u n t e r e d ,  although  on a few o c c a s i o n s , informants q u i t e p r e d i c t a b l y would not i n t o t o p i c s about w h i c h they were f e a r f u l Section IV).  On the c o n t r a r y ,  informants o c c a s i o n a l l y v o l u n t e e r e d  even though, to most o f them, I was a t o t a l In f a c t ,  venture  (this i s discussed i n  i n f o r m a t i o n o f a v e r y p e r s o n a l n a t u r e w i t h no embarrassment ever,  to  what-  stranger.  I have found t h a t women i n o u r s o c i e t y are  more than w i l l i n g to t a l k about t h e i r p r e g n a n c i e s ,  often going  i n t o c o n s i d e r a b l e d e t a i l about such o c c u r r a n c e s as morning s i c k ness,  the s e n s a t i o n s o f movement o f the f e t u s  i n c o n v e n i e n c e o f h a v i n g an e n l a r g e d abdomen. about pregnancy, not o n l y among t h e m s e l v e s ,  i n utero,  and the  They t a l k a l o t but to o t h e r women  who have had b a b i e s . Moreover, i t i s q u i t e s o c i a l l y a c c e p t a b l e t o t a l k about  12 these  things i n mixed company, w i t h the males j o i n i n g  g e n e r a l f r i v o l i t y which o f t e n accompanies these or e x p r e s s i n g sympathy when a p p r o p r i a t e . have a l l experienced in,  conversations  Among persons who  a pregnancy, everyone f e e l s f r e e t o j o i n  and t e l l of t h e i r own experiences  or f r i e n d s .  i n the  o r those o f t h e i r wives  The tone o f these c o n v e r s a t i o n s may become q u i t e  intimate. The  t o p i c can continue  a t great l e n g t h , as i s r e -  f l e c t e d i n the f o l l o w i n g remark overheard  at a p a r t y , "Oh, no,  w e ' l l be here a l l n i g h t ; they are t a l k i n g about  childbirth."  Mothers o f young c h i l d r e n , f o r whom the experience i s s t i l l quite v i v i d ,  seem to enjoy  h e a r i n g about o t h e r s .  In f a c t ,  telling  t h e i r experiences and  i t i s very easy t o t r i g g e r t h i s  s o r t o f t a l k among gatherings o f women under a v a r i e t y of circumstances;  I have observed  and on s e v e r a l occasions  purposely  s t i m u l a t e d conversations between c a s u a l groups o f young mothers, who were s t r a n g e r s t o one another, together i n the park.  In each case,  having babies was s u f f i c i e n t of  while t h e i r c h i l d r e n played an off-hand  remark about  to t r i g g e r the d i a l o g u e .  A spirit  comraderie i s evident on these o c c a s i o n s , f o r seldom does the  t o p i c engender controversy,  as might develop  d u r i n g t a l k about  o t h e r domestic t o p i c s , such as c h i l d - r e a r i n g o r e a t i n g h a b i t s . Moreover, women f r e q u e n t l y seek out occasions t o t a l k about the s u b j e c t .  At p r e n a t a l c l a s s e s , f o r i n s t a n c e ,  groups o f women u s u a l l y c l u s t e r t o g e t h e r d u r i n g the c o f f e e break to  t a l k about pregnancy and baby care, as i f the s h a r i n g o f t h i s  experience  were s u f f i c i e n t  t o c a n c e l out d i f f e r e n c e s they might  13 have. Quite often,  these c o n v e r s a t i o n s resemble "war s t o r i e s " ,  f o r what u s u a l l y happens features  i s t h a t each p e r s o n s i n g l e s out  those  o f h e r pregnancy and d e l i v e r y which are somewhat u n -  u s u a l and which had to be h a n d l e d w i t h a degree endurance.  o f courage and  The f a c t t h a t some i n f o r m a l acknowledgement  u s u a l l y g i v e n to the one who had the most u n f o r t u n a t e  is  experience  a l s o p o i n t s toward a s t r o n g element o f oneupmansbip. There i s , on the o t h e r hand, u s u a l l y some e x p r e s s i o n o f amazement when someone i n d i c a t e s t h a t she has had an e s p e c i a l l y easy time o f i t , and t h i s may i n d i c a t e t h a t good f o r t u n e  either  has p r e s t i g e v a l u e o r t h a t i t provokes antagonism s i n c e i t c o u n t e r to e x p e c t a t i o n .  The f a c t t h a t so much t a l k  runs  centers  around the c o m p l i c a t i o n s o f h a v i n g a baby r e v e a l s an u n d e r l y i n g b e l i e f o r assumption t h a t i t i s a " h a r d " t h i n g to d o . perhaps  stems from the m e d i c a l o r i e n t a t i o n w h i c h t r e a t s  b i r t h as i f i t were a m e d i c a l c r i s i s . . the f i e l d  This child-  Indeed, p r o f e s s i o n a l s  in  o f c h i l d b i r t h e d u c a t i o n see i t as t h e i r t a s k t o " d e c o n -  d i t i o n " these b e l i e f s i n t h e i r  students.  A woman i s l i k e l y t o be i n c l u d e d i n on t h e s e c o n v e r sations  i n i t i a l l y when she f i r s t t e l l s o t h e r s  t h a t she i s  pregnant;  Informant: (a former secondary s c h o o l t e a c h e r ) I found t h a t as soon as t h e y f i n d out y o u ' r e p r e g n a n t , the a d u l t s i n the s t a f f room they t a l k about t h e i r e x p e r i e n c e s and the o l d w i v e s ' t a l e s would come out and t h e y ' d go on and o n . MP;  I h a t d i d they ®ay t o one  another?  Informant: T h e y ' d d e s c r i b e the p a i n s and so on and the d e l i v e r y . . . And I-had t h i s e x p e r i e n c e , t o o , when I had a n o t h e r ailment. I d o n ' t g e n e r a l l y admit t o h a v i n g i t , because when I do,  ll+ I i n v a r i a b l y say i t to someone who says, "Oh, my mother-in-law had t h i s , or my s i s t e r , and they died on the o p e r a t i n g t a b l e . " I don't know why people enjoy t a l k i n g about t h e i r a i l m e n t s . Some people are j u s t morbid and enjoy t a l k i n g about i t . As the informant suggests, some persons f i n d these t a l e s d i s t a s t e f u l and w i l l r e f r a i n from p a r t i c i p a t i n g .  It i s  a l s o true t h a t , f o r reasons o f t a c t , persons w i l l r e f r a i n t e l l i n g experiences which might ing  her f i r s t  baby,.  for  i n s t a n c e , one mother was  f r i g h t e n a woman who  from  i s expect-  During the c o f f e e break at a p r e n a t a l  class,  d e s c r i b i n g i n g r a p h i c d e t a i l the  c o m p l i c a t i o n s which had o c c u r r e d d u r i n g her two p r e v i o u s d e l i v e r i e s to three others who mother o f two who to  was  were pregnant f o r the f i r s t  listening  i n was  time.  v i s i b l y uneasy and  smooth the s i t u a t i o n over by a s s u r i n g the g i r l s  that  A  tried  such  c o m p l i c a t i o n s are r a r e . It i s a l s o i n poor t a s t e to engage i n such t a l k i n the or  presence o f a c h i l d l e s s woman who whose advanced  i s known to be  infertile  years p r e c l u d e her ever becoming pregnant,  unless her r o l e c a n c e l s out t h i s r e s t r i c t i o n , e.g., a nurse or c o u n s e l l o r .  i f she i s  There are two reasons f o r t h i s .  First,  her l a c k o f experience makes h e r i n e l i g i b l e to communicate i n t h i s area, and second, there i s always  the chance  that she  be made t o f e e l inadequate by her f a i l u r e to f u l f i l l l o g i c a l function.  this  might bio-  C l o s e l y r e l a t e d t o the l a t t e r i s the assump-  t i o n of many people that a l l women wish to become pregnant  and  that married women are expected to have b a b i e s . T h e r e f o r e , one must observe a few r u l e s o f e t i q u e t t e when c o n v e r s i n g about such matters, though these r e s t r i c t i o n s  15 are few i n number. others  One i s f r e e to d i s c u s s h e r e x p e r i e n c e s i f  i n the group have shared them, and i s i n f a c t ,  on by the response o f o t h e r s  i n the groups, as l o n g as she does  not o f f e n d the f e e l i n g s o f o t h e r s . of tact  and e t i q u e t t e ,  the  spurred  Y e t , as i n most o t h e r m a t t e r s  rule i s frequently transgressed.  Often  the eagerness of some women t o t e l l o f t h e i r own e x p e r i e n c e s b l i n d s them to the n e g a t i v e responses  of others.  Thus, a p r e g -  nant woman f i n d s h e r s e l f i n a p o s i t i o n where she i s p r i v i l e g e d to share w i t h o t h e r s a s p e c i a l set o f e x p e r i e n c e s . informant  As one  said:  I t ' s s u r p r i s i n g , you know; I mean I ' d r e a l l y s o r t o f never n o t i c e d pregnant women before I got pregnant - - I w a s n ' t i n t e r e s t e d i n i t , and I had no g i r l f r i e n d s who were pregnant b e f o r e . And i t ' s funny, s i n c e y o u ' r e p r e g n a n t , you s o r t o f l o o k at the d i f f e r e n t pregnant women. I d o n ' t know, i t ' s so d i f f e r e n t ; y o u ' r e so changed, i n y o u r s e l f . To say t h a t a change has taken p l a c e i n y o u r s e l f i s t o say t h a t a b a s i c a l t e r a t i o n has o c c u r r e d i n the c o n c e p t i o n o f s e l f and i s r e f l e c t e d i n s o c i a l i n t e r a c t i o n , and t h a t a meani n g f u l t u r n i n g p o i n t has taken p l a c e i n a p e r s o n s ' s  identity.  Moreover, t h i s informant i m p l i e s t h a t the change i s  permanent,  t h a t i t goes beyond the nine-month pregnancy. women have l i t t l e  reason to o r i e n t themselves to t h i s way o f  t h i n k i n g o r t o i d e n t i f y w i t h those who d o . all  Before pregnancy,  Pregnancy changes  that. Viewed i n t h i s way, f o r m a r r i e d women i n o u r c u l t u r e ,  the p e r i o d o f pregnancy c o n s t i t u t e s passage,  a s o r t o f female r i t e o f  f o r h a v i n g e x p e r i e n c e d t h i s sequence o f events,  n e v e r be the same a g a i n .  T a l k i n g about t h i s to o t h e r s  she can serves  16 to r e i n f o r c e t h i s f a c t , tween those who share  as w e l l as to acknowledge the bond b e it.  Here i s where the f a c t o r o f e x p e c t a t i o n comes i n . M a r r i e d c o u p l e s are expected t o have c h i l d r e n — t o be a b l e have t h i s e x p e r i e n c e i n common. woman r e a l l y wants to become MP:  A common a t t i t u d e  to  i s t h a t every  pregnant.  They e x p e c t e d you t o have a f a m i l y ?  Informant:  Oh, y e a h .  MP: 'ilhen someone g e t s m a r r i e d , do you t h i n k t h e i r expect them t o have a f a m i l y ?  relatives  Informant' Oh, I t h i n k s o , e s p e c i a l l y o l d e r people - - l i k e , not our g e n e r a t i o n so much. L i k e I f e e l t h a t when people get m a r r i e d nowadays - - um, l i k e I m y s e l f d o n ' t expect them t o have a f a m i l y r i g h t away. MP:  What do you mean by r i g h t away?  Informant: W e l l , w i t h i n , say, a y e a r o r t w o . I s o r t o f t h i n k , w e l l , now the way i t i s you s o r t o f get m a r r i e d and you maybe l i v e i n an apartment f o r a few y e a r s and s o r t o f have a good t i m e . Say y o u r p a r e n t s and w i f e work and you s o r t o f get a few m a t e r i a l needs, and then you t h i n k o f a f a m i l y . Whereas b e f o r e , i t seemed l i k e f o r my mother and f a t h e r and f o r my aunts and u n c l e s t h a t t h e y got m a r r i e d and had c h i l d r e n r i g h t away, and t h a t was i t .  MP: Do you f e e l t h a t p e o p l e expect you to r a i s e a f a m i l y when you get m a r r i e d ? Informant: MP:  Very much s o .  \fhat do they do i f you d o n ' t ?  Informant: I d o n ' t t h i n k they are i n t e n t i o n a l l y c r u e l , but the word i s c r u e l , I t h i n k . Because I have s e v e r a l f r i e n d s who c o u l d n ' t have t h e i r own c h i l d r e n and e v e n t u a l l y a d o p t e d . And i n some cases i t was q u i t e h a r d on them. They almost had to a d o p t . Oh, we'd go home f o r the summer and be i n t r o d u c e d  17 around and some o f them say, "How many c h i l d r e n do you have And when you t e l l them they say, "None?! W/hat's the m a t t e r w i t h you? T h a t ' s a d i r e c t q u o t e , w h i c h i f s a i d t o one o r two o f my g i r l f r i e n d s who were t r y i n g d e s p e r a t e l y t o have c h i l d r e n they would have r u n o f f i n t e a r s . I think that i t was rude, t a c t l e s s . Not I n t e n t i o n a l at a l l .  Often, pressure by r e l a t i v e s and f r i e n d s ,  l i k e t h i s i s put on c h i l d l e s s c o u p l e s and t h i s may become a source of h a r d  f e e l i n g s and o f t e n s i o n between  friends.  People show zero t a c t where I n t e r r o g a t i n g the c h i l d l e s s i s c o n c e r n e d , couples s a y . Why not? Have you been t o a d o c t o r ? The couple i n t u r n f e e l no compunction about the b a l d l i e . " T h a t ' s r i g h t , we c a n ' t have them," i s the s i m p l e s t way to c l o s e the s u b j e c t . . . I n - l a w s are almost by d e f i n i t i o n i n c o n s o l a b l e . When the Rosenbergs f i n a l l y brought home a c a t , M o t h e r i n - l a w c r i e d f o r j o y : "Now y o u ' r e a f a m i l y ! " The i d e a i s t h a t i f m a r r i e d people have no c h i l d , they are j u s t p l a y i n g house. i\. What would appear to be a p r i v a t e matter between a man and a w i f e has a p e c u l i a r l y p u b l i c d i m e n s i o n , f o r p e o p l e can and o f t e n do f e e l free t o ask q u e s t i o n s about f a m i l y p l a n n i n g , whereas s i m i l a r candor i n d i s c u s s i n g s u c h m a t t e r s as  fin-  a n c i a l a f f a i r s and sex would be c o n s i d e r e d i n a p p r o p r i a t e and tactless.  In f a c t ,  t h i s i s not such a p r i v a t e m a t t e r at a l l ,  f o r people are remarkably c a s u a l i n a p p r o a c h i n g i t . Informant: I asked h e r (a good f r i e n d ) a n o t h e r baby and . . .  i f she wanted  MP: Would you f e e l t h a t freedom t o ask a q u e s t i o n l i k e i f you h a d n ' t had one y o u r s e l f ?  that  Informant: No, p r o b a b l y n o t , I g u e s s . L i k e people say t o me now (the informant had j u s t had a baby g i r l ) , "afayne wanted a boy; how l o n g are you g o i n g t o w a i t b e f o r e you have a n o t h e r In " C h i l d l e s s by C h o i c e " , by G a i l Sheehy. January 20, 1969, p . 38.  New Y o r k ,  18  baby?" I haven't r e a l l y thought about i t , you know. I'd l i k e to have one f a i r l y soon a f t e r w a r d s . MP:  That's i n t e r e s t i n g .  Informant:  Yes,  I think  That's a r e a l l y p e r s o n a l q u e s t i o n .  i t ' s true.  MPt Is t h i s an area of your l i f e to ask you p e r s o n a l questions?  that people f e e l  free  Informant: They must, because they don't ask o t h e r questions l i k e t h a t . A~nother t h i n g , many of them have not gone beyond h i g h s c h o o l . You see, by husband has gone to s c h o o l q u i t e a b i t and has a d o c t o r a t e , and I have three de;grees, and i t ' s always "\$hat on e a r t h do you want t o get more s c h o o l i n g f o r ? " So they have t h e i r f a m i l i e s and we have our degrees. I am not saying that one i s b e t t e r than the o t h e r . They have l o v e l y f a m i l i e s . There's j u s t no understanding. We've had to give up a f a m i l y f o r a few years. Thus, a pregnant and acceptance  woman arouses  of others who  this experience.  In f a c t ,  the i n t e r e s t ,  have themselves  become a l t e r e d  by  i d e a l c o n d i t i o n s f o r communication  come i n t o p l a y i n the case o f pregnancy i n our 1)  sympathy,  culture.  Most married couples i n the c u l t u r e have had  this  experience. 2)  Although a pregnant  l o g i c a l p o t e n t i a l , s t i l l she o f times  she does so.  woman i s f u l f i l l i n g h e r b i o -  i s expected  to r e s t r i c t the number  The means f o r doing t h i s are w i d e l y  shared  and openly d i s c u s s e d , not only on the l e v e l of i n t e r p e r s o n a l communication,  but  i n the mass media as w e l l .  3) Thus, a woman who  has decided to be pregnant  w i t h others not only the experience  i t s e l f , but the experience  of having made that d e c i s i o n , and a l l that t h a t i m p l i e s . these two  shares  f a c t o r s , there e x i s t s a d u a l bond.  From  *9 ]+) I f , this  on the o t h e r hand, h e r pregnancy i s a c c i d e n t a l ,  i s o p e n l y acknowledged and t h e r e are o t h e r s who have had  t h i s experience,  as w e l l , and make no s e c r e t o f a d m i t t i n g  it.  5) The commonality o f the e x p e r i e n c e of pregnancy unites  i n d i v i d u a l s who are s e p a r a t e d by v i r t u e o f n e o - l o c a l  r e s i d e n c e r u l e s and p r i m a r y f a m i l y g r o u p i n g s  i n our o i i l t u r e ,  and thus p r o v i d e s one k i n d o f l i n k ,  d u r i n g the  bearing years,  at l e a s t  child-  between people who l i v e q u i t e s e p a r a t e e x i s t -  ences and have few o t h e r o p p o r t u n i t i e s  f o r shared  experience.  6.) Pregnant women are h i g h l y v i s i b l e to o t h e r s on the one hand, and s e l f - c o n s c i o u s o f t h e i r own c o n d i t i o n on the o t h e r .  T h i s mutual awareness serves as a c o n s t a n t  of the e x i s t e n c e of p o t e n t i a l communication c h a n n e l s .  reminder It  l i c e n s e t o t o t a l s t r a n g e r s to r e f e r t o a woman's pregnant  gives con-  d i t i o n without offending her or p l a c i n g himself i n a vulnerable position,  so l o n g as he i s t a c t f u l .  Likewise,  It loosens  s t r i c t i o n s on i n t i m a t e c o n v e r s a t i o n between c a s u a l 7 ) Indeed,  re-  friends.  pregnancy may c r e a t e a s p e c i a l c a t e g o r y  o f f r i e n d s w i t h whom one shares d e t a i l e d i n f o r m a t i o n about pregnancy and c h i l d b i r t h , as w e l l as r e l a t e d t o p i c s s u c h as lactation,  and v i r t u a l l y n o t h i n g e l s e ,  iffihile these  may broaden i n t o more g e n e r a l i z e d r e l a t i o n s h i p s ,  friendships  they are  just  as l i k e l y to end when c h i l d b e a r i n g e n d s . These v a r i o u s f a c t o r s  suggest t h a t pregnancy i n our  c u l t u r e p r o v i d e s a focus f o r communication between p e o p l e , c u l a r l y between women.  One t h i n g t h a t t h i s i n d i c a t e s  parti-  i s that  20 pregnancy i s important  and valuable i n the c u l t u r e .  That i s ,  although women p l a c e r e s t r i c t i o n s on t h e i r n a t u r a l r e p r o d u c t i v e c a p a c i t y , pregnancy i t s e l f has not l o s t trary,  i t s value.  i t can be argued that i t s r e l a t i v e  On the con-  r a r i t y e l e v a t e s the  importance o f each pregnancy, not only t o the woman h e r s e l f , but  i t a l s o heightens  the degree of i n t e r e s t which i s shared  by others and expressed  i n v a r i o u s communication  events.  Furthermore, the n a t u r a l c a p a c i t y t o reproduce on the one hand and the c u l t u r a l n e c e s s i t y t o l i m i t on the other i s one of l i f e ' s must cope with t h i s it.  reproduction  dilemmas i n our c u l t u r e .  s i t u a t i o n , and the tensions/which  Women  flows  from  Hence, the need t o r e s o l v e i t and the d e s i r e t o t a l k about  i t are j o i n e d i n a l o g i c a l r e l a t i o n s h i p , inasmuch as communic a t i o n permits  a pregnant woman to o r i e n t h e r s e l f r e g a r d i n g h e r  c o n d i t i o n , as w e l l as g i v i n g those who have been p r e v i o u s l y pregnant an o p p o r t u n i t y to r e - o r i e n t themselves regarding important  f a c e t of t h e i r l i v e s .  Not o n l y i s there a mutual  flow o f i n f o r m a t i o n , but a more important support  fully.  means o f mutual  and reinforcement. The  next  three chapters  this  develop  these  ideas more  21  III.  MAKING THE ANNOUNCEMENT  A l t h o u g h a normal pregnancy l a s t s f o r a p p r o x i m a t e l y nine months  ( o r f o r t y , w e e k s ) , t h e r e Is r e a s o n  to b e l i e v e  that  a p e r s o n does not assume the s o c i a l i d e n t i t y o f a pregnant woman f o r some time f o l l o w i n g c o n c e p t i o n .  A woman can c o n t r o l  the time at which t h i s occurs by c h o o s i n g a p a r t i c u l a r time make h e r pregnancy known t o o t h e r s .  T h i s a c t o f communication  v a r i e s between i n d i v i d u a l s , but f o l l o w s a g e n e r a l , p a t t e r n , which I w i l l d e s c r i b e  to  in this  predictable  chapter.  I f a woman wants to become p r e g n a n t , she u s u a l l y anticipates  i t s onset.  Therefore,  women who are not p r a c t i c i n g  c o n t r a c e p t i o n are g e n e r a l l y on the a l e r t nane^/.  f o r symptoms o f p r e g -  S u s p i c i o n o f pregnancy g e n e r a l l y occurs when two men-  s t r u a l p e r i o d s are m i s s e d , and i s i n t e n s i f i e d i f and when t h e r e are such symptoms as nausea, d r o w s i n e s s , and the l i k e .  Since i t  breast  i s not uncommon, however,  changes,  f o r a non-  pregnant woman t o miss a p e r i o d o r two, the m a j o r i t y o f women i n the sample v i s i t e d t h e i r d o c t o r to make s u r e ,  f o r women i n  our c u l t u r e r e l y upon m e d i c a l t e s t s a n d / o r e x a m i n a t i o n t o v e r i f y the pregnancy.  A l a b o r a t o r y t e s t may v e r i f y the pregnancy  e a r l y as two weeks a f t e r not be r e l i a b l e .  as  c o n c e p t i o n , but a t e s t t h i s e a r l y may  Four to s i x weeks i s g e n e r a l l y accepted  as  more r e l i a b l e . Most f e e l t h a t f o l l o w i n g t h i s p r o c e d u r e p r o t e c t s I n d i v i d u a l from the p o s s i b l e embarrassment of h a v i n g to  the  retract  22  the announcement  t h a t she i s pregnant when i n f a c t she has some  other g y n e c o l o g i c a l c o n d i t i o n . However, some women do not have e a r l y symptoms, and if  they are o b l i v i o u s to m i s s i n g t h e i r p e r i o d s , they may not  suspect  f o r t h r e e o r f o u r months ( i n some u n u s u a l cases,  even  longer). There are u n u s u a l examples o f women who l e t know t h a t they t h i n k they a r e pregnant beginning.  everyone  almost r i g h t from the  Three times d u r i n g the s t u d y ,  I heard o f women  t e l l i n g f r i e n d s t h a t they were pregnant when t h e y were but a few days l a t e g e t t i n g t h e i r p e r i o d — i n o t h e r words, m e d i c a l v e r i f i c a t i o n was p o s s i b l e . them s e r i o u s l y , and i n f a c t , r e a l l y pregnant.  In each c a s e ,  before  no one t o o k  as time p r o v e d , none o f them was  The concensus of the i n f o r m a n t s was t h a t t h e y  had a c t e d f o o l i s h l y .  Such b e h a v i o r was o u t s i d e c u l t u r a l e x p e c -  tations,  i f the r e a c t i o n o f my i n f o r m a n t s was t y p i c a l .  entally,  a l l t h r e e women a l r e a d y had c h i l d r e n .  (Incid-  P o r reasons  d e s c r i b e d below, i t i s not l i k e l y t h a t a woman would do t h i s i n h e r f i r s t pregnancy, n o r i s i t t y p i c a l o f women w i t h quent  subse-  pregnancies.) "JShen m e d i c a l v e r i f i c a t i o n  f e e l free  i s o b t a i n e d , she maji then  to t e l l o t h e r s o f h e r p r e g n a n c y .  between the second and f o u r t h months. purposely wait u n t i l a f t e r  This u s u a l l y occurs  I t i s not uncommon t o  t h r e e months have e l a p s e d ,  m i s c a r r i a g e s are common b e f o r e t h i s time and r a r e Most women t e l l t h e i r husbands when they suspect  since  thereafter. t h a t t h e y are  pregnant, and he is' t h e r e f o r e u s u a l l y the f i r s t  to know.  The timing and manner i n which the announcement i s made to others, however, proved t o be i n t e r e s t i n g . A few make the  announcement as soon as medical v e r i f i c a t i o n i s o b t a i n e d :  Informant; as I knew. MP:  When was  Informant: MP:  I s t a r t e d t e l l i n g people as soon  that ?  Oh,  I t h i n k I was  two months pregnant.  A f t e r you had& been to the doctor?  Informant:  to  Oh, gosh,  Yeah.  Informant: I t r i e d not to t e l l anybody, but I d i d . keep i t a s e c r e t , but I c o u l d n ' t . MP:  Is i t your nature to want to say  something?  Informant: Yeah. I was a l l e x c i t e d , you know. I wanted to share i t with f r i e n d s . Yet, their first  MP: to  slowly:  I t o l d one g i r l at work.  This was  r e a l e a r l y i n your  Informant: Just one g i r l t e l l anyone e l s e . MP:  Good news.  i t i s more common, p a r t i c u l a r l y among women having  b a b i e s , to l e t the news leak out  Informant:  I wanted  —  pregnancy?  not the r e s t .  I t o l d her not  ffiry?  Informant: For one t h i n g , we had a l o t of g i r l s at work that b l a b around t o everybody; then everybody would know. They'd come over and ask you a l l k i n d s of q u e s t i o n s and get nosy. I did not want them t o know r i g h t away.  2k MP;  D i d you t e l l any o f the o t h e r  teachers?  Informant: No, not o n e . I t o l d the p r i n c i p a l , and asked t h a t he not t e l l anyone. He r e s p e c t e d my c o n f i d e n c e , and he s a i d he d i d n ' t care what I s a i d — "You c o u l d t e l l anyone anyt h i n g , and i t won't come from me." One l a d y guessed and came r i g h t out and asked when the baby was due. I can't l i e . . . s o , c o n f r o n t e d w i t h something l i k e t h a t , I j u s t asked t h a t she not say a n y t h i n g . . . O t h e r w i s e , I d i d n ' t admit i t u n t i l the v e r y l a s t day (of s c h o o l , when she was s i x months p r e g n a n t ) . A statement to the e f f e c t t h a t " I asked t h a t h e / s h e not t e l l anyone" appears t h r e e times i n the two c o n v e r s a t i o n s just c i t e d . versations  I t a l s o came up f r e q u e n t l y d u r i n g the c a s u a l c o n I had w i t h o t h e r pregnant  women.  I t a l k e d t o had b l u r t e d out the news.  In f a c t ,  R a t h e r , the i n f o r m a t i o n  was h a n d l e d i n a r a t h e r s e c r e t i v e way a t f i r s t , suddenly f a c i n g the s o c i a l consequences  few women  as i f t o  avoid  that such an announce-  ment would b r i n g . Some have specialfereasons  f o r d o i n g t h i s . One woman  who had e x p e r i e n c e d a f r u s t r a t i n g s e r i e s o f m i s c a r r i a g e s and gynecological d i f f i c u l t i e s changes  t o l d no one o f h e r pregnancy u n t i l  i n h e r f i g u r e became so obvious t h a t they r e q u i r e d some  explanation.  She s a i d she d i d not want t o face the  embarrass-  ment and sense o f f a i l u r e t h a t y e t a n o t h e r m i s f o r t u n e would b r i n g , and t h e r e f o r e  d i d not want to expose h e r s e l f t o  s o c i a l i n v o l v e m e n t s o f pregnancy u n t i l she had assurances  of  the  reasonable  success.  Significantly,  I t h i n k , the women i n the i n t e r v i e w  sample who had t r i e d f o r q u i t e some time to become pregnant not f o l l o w t h i s p a t t e r n o f l e t t i n g the news l e a k out  did  slowly,  but broke the news q u i c k l y and e n t h u s i a s t i c a l l y , as i f w a i t i n g  25  had made them eager to accept the changes  in life  s t y l e and the  w e l l - m e a n i n g support from f r i e n d s t h a t t h i s announcement  would  bring. I b e l i e v e t h a t most women know, c o n s c i o u s l y or u n c o n sciously,  t h a t to p r e s e n t  themselves as pregnant women w i l l i n -  e v i t a b l y c a s t them i n a new set o f r e l a t i o n s h i p s and t h a t can not a v o i d t h i s .  Therefore,  the t i m i n g of t h e i r  they  announcement  depends on t h e i r r e a d i n e s s and w i l l i n g n e s s to t a k e p a r t .  Those  who are eager t o p a r t i c i p a t e announce e a r l y ; those who are ambiv a l e n t h o l d o f f u n t i l such t i m e as they can c o m f o r t a b l y cope w i t h it.  While i n d i v i d u a l e m o t i o n a l make-up may e n t e r i n t o t h i s c h o i c e ,  t h e r e are a l s o v a l i d s o c i a l  reasons why a n t i c i p a t i n g the  invol-  vement o f motherhood can be an a m b i v a l e n t e x p e r i e n c e . F i r s t o f a l l , t o become p r e g n a n t , first  especially for  the  t i m e , marks the b e g i n n i n g o f the most I r r e v e r s i b l e t u r n i n g  p o i n t i n the l i f e o f a woman i n our c u l t u r e . keep h e r pregnancy s e c r e t , necessary adjustments.  As l o n g as she can  she can a v o i d h a v i n g to b e g i n the  F o r a woman's r e l a t i o n s h i p w i t h h e r  c h i l d r e n i s l e g a l and b i n d i n g - - and u n l i k e m a r r i a g e , not be d i s s o l v e d by l e g a l p r o c e s s .  i t can  She i s m o r a l l y committed  t o care f o r h e r c h i l d u n t i l he can care f o r h i m s e l f , a p e r i o d o f at l e a s t  eighteen years.  Furthermore,  l i v i n g i n nuclear  f a m i l y u n i t s means t h a t the c a r e o f c h i l d r e n can not e a s i l y be d e l e g a t e d t o o t h e r female f a m i l y members, and although, the s o c i e t y p r o v i d e s f o r some a g e n c i e s o u t s i d e the home t o take the p l a c e of a mother's  care s h o u l d she w i s h t o pursue o t h e r g o a l s ,  the  26  d u a l r e s p o n s i b i l i t y o f parenthood and c a r e e r are h e a v y . s a t i s f a c t i o n of r a i s i n g c h i l d r e n must be b a l a n c e d a g a i n s t f a c t i o n s w h i c h are a v a i l a b l e t o women o u t s i d e the home.  The satisAnd  f o r a woman who a l r e a d y has c h i l d r e n , i t means the a d d i t i o n a l burden of c a r i n g f o r an i n f a n t ,  a prospect  she may g r e e t w i t h  mixed or even n e g a t i v e f e e l i n g s , as t h i s example  illustrates:  "Dear Ann L a n d e r s : I had not seen my s i s t e r i n t h r e e years. She i s 1+0 y e a r s o l d and h e r two c h i l d r e n are grown., Mien Erma and h e r husband met me a t the a i r p o r t I was shocked t o see t h a t she had become so h e a v y . Immediately I c o n c l u d e d she was pregnant and I s a i d s o . She became f u r i o u s and s h o u t e d , "You are out o f y o u r mind! I have a t h y r o i d c o n d i t i o n , but i t ' s under c o n t r o l now . " . . . I l e f t Madisson on Tuesday. The f o l l o w i n g F r i d a y I r e c e i v e d a t e l e g r a m from Erma. It read, "Guess who gave b i r t h to an e i g h t - p o u n d b o y . " I'm burned up because my s i s t e r l i e d to me. Ihy would a person do such a c r a z y t h i n g ? . S u r e l y she knew I ' d l e a r n the t r u t h e v e n t u a l l y . Help me u n d e r s t a n d . I am — BAFFLED AND BOILING. Answer: I suspect y o u r l+O-year-old s i s t e r was l e s s than t h r i l l e d when she l e a r n e d she was p r e g n a n t . Her r e f u s a l to make the announcement spared h e r the embarrassment o f dis-f cussing her condition . . . " On the o t h e r hand, a n t i c i p a t i n g the b i r t h o f a baby i s not a n e g a t i v e p r o s p e c t ,  either.  On the c o n t r a r y , most women  t h a t I i n t e r v i e w e d s i n c e r e l y wanted a baby and were w i l l i n g commit themselves to the r a i s i n g o f a c h i l d o r c h i l d r e n .  to  It  is  p e r f e c t l y normal f o r anyone t o want two a l t e r n a t i v e s w i t h e q u a l i n t e n s i t y ; and so i t i s not s u r p r i s i n g f o r a woman d u r i n g e a r l y pregnancy t o want t o be a mother as much as she wants t o r e t a i n a c a r e e r o r t o f o l l o w some o t h e r F o r these r e a s o n s ,  course.  many women do not want t o expose  themselves u n n e c e s s a r i l y to the q u e s t i o n s  o f f r i e n d s who may  not r e a l i z e the d e l i c a c y o f the p r e d i c a m e n t , u n t i l some o f the  27  ambivalence has been r e s o l v e d , as i t u s u a l l y i s as time goes o n . By mid-pregnancy, most women have become pregnant s o c i a l sense,  i n the  and most o f my i n f o r m a n t s enjoyed the  which t h i s i m p l i e s .  full  interaction  But the f a c t t h a t one i n f o r m a n t p l a n n e d to  t e l l none of h e r many o u t - o f - t o w n f r i e n d s about h e r pregnancy u n t i l after  the b a b y ' s b i r t h shows t h a t one can l o o k w i t h d i s -  t a s t e on the whole phenomenon and p r e f e r Once the announcement  to opt out o f  it.  i s made, the responses  are  u s u a l l y l i g h t h e a r t e d and s u p p o r t i v e . Informant: We n o t i c e d t h a t as soon as they ( f r i e n d s ) found out they were j u s t e l a t e d . Some o f the l a d i e s were so e x c i t e d and happy f o r u s . And the men, t o o . I was s u r p r i s e d " and some o f them would come out and say i t was the most wonderf u l e x p e r i e n c e i n t h e i r l i v e s and t h e y ' d go on and o n . The news spreads co-workers.  q u i c k l y among f a m i l y ,  An informant s a i d :  and want to know."  friends,  and  " I t h i n k people are c u r i o u s  Asked what people had s a i d when t h e y had  made the announcement,  women c o n s i s t e n t l y r e p o r t e d such phrases  as,  "It's  "It's  wonderful,"  a happy time f o r e v e r y o n e , "  and  "Most people e x p r e s s e d t h e i r j o y and . c o n g r a t u l a t i o n s w i t h hugs and k i s s e s . "  One g i r l r e p o r t e d t h a t someone had asked  you want the baby?"  which i l l u s t r a t e s the degree o f  "Did  frankness  which i s c o n s i d e r e d a p p r o p r i a t e among f r i e n d s . It  Is seldom n e c e s s a r y f o r t h e couple to t e l l more  than a few people f o r i t t o spread through t h e i r e n t i r e circle.  For t h i s  reason,  c o u p l e s c a r e f u l l y observe  p r i o r i t i e s when b r e a k i n g the news, i n the b e l i e f people have the  social  certain  that  certain  r i g h t t o know before the news becomes p u b l i c  28  knowledge.  The f o l l o w i n g example i l l u s t r a t e s  this:  Informant: On F a t h e r ' s Day, he (Husband) wrote to h i s f o l k s and I wrote to my mother. And the r e a s o n , m a i n l y , f o r t e l l i n g our mothers (at t h a t t i m e ) was t h a t we stopped by t o see a r e l a t i o n i n Washington (an aunt o f the Informant) and o f c o u r s e , she guessed - - and I d i d n ' t want my mother to h e a r second h a n d . MP: So, the people t h a t you see every day d i d n ' t r e a l l y know u n t i l i t became o b v i o u s . Informant: That's r i g h t . Except f o r two people t h a t I told. They were c l o s e f r i e n d s and I know t h a t they w e r e n ' t s e e i n g t h e o b v i o u s and t h a t they might be h u r t i f they found out from someone e l s e . Husbands f r e q u e n t l y p l a y a l a r g e p a r t news.  Making announcements,  i n fact,  i n breaking the  seems t o be one of t h e  r o l e s the husband has d u r i n g h i s w i f e ' s p r e g n a n c y .  few  So one must  take i n t o account t h a t t h e r e are two p e o p l e d e c i d i n g who s h o u l d know f i r s t : Informant: I wanted t o keep i t to m y s e l f f o r a l i t t l e while" But my husband was . . . the o p p o s i t e . . . He had t o t e l l e v e r y b o d y . W e l l , a l l h i s f r i e n d s , e v e r y b o d y . He w o u l d n ' t keep i t a s e c r e t . . . I used t o t e l l him at times, " W e l l , w a i t t i l I want t o t e l l them." MP:  I wonder why t h i s i s .  Informant: MP:  D i d you do i t ,  I t happens many t i m e s . too?  Are you s u r p r i s e d to h e a r t h a t ?  Informant ? Yeah, I am. I f i g u r e d most g i r l s , t h e y ' d l i k e t o t e l l everyone r i g h t away. W e l l , even;" my mom and dad, I d i d n ' t t e l l them u n t i l I went home. L i k e , I d i d n ' t t e l l them i n a l e t t e r o r a n y t h i n g . Everyone t h o u g h t , "Oh, y o u s h o u l d . " . . . my husband's aunt, she s a y s , "Oh. you s h o u l d t e l l h e r as soon as you f i n d o u t . You s h o u l d n ' t w a i t . I w a i t e d t i l I went home i n May f o r a v i s i t . MP: months?  So o t h e r people had known about i t f o r a couple o f  Informant: had t o l d .  Some p e o p l e down h e r e .  The ones my husband  29 MP: Once y o u r p a r e n t s knew about i t , d i d you then free t o . . . ?  feel  Informant: W e l l , then I d i d n ' t mind t e l l i n g everybody because I d i d n ' t t h i n k I s h o u l d t e l l everybody e l s e f i r s t and not them. An informant who had been c h i l d l e s s f o r seven y e a r s had the f o l l o w i n g  experience:  Informant: Oh, l i k e I was p r o b a b l y the l a s t one to h e a r t h a t I was p r e g n a n t . Because he (Husband) phoned up - - the next day he phoned the d o c t o r ' s t o f i n d out the r e s u l t s (of the p r e g nancy t e s t ) . . . He phoned the d o c t o r t h a t morning t o f i n d out i f i t was p o s i t i v e o r n e g a t i v e . And i t t u r n e d out p o s i t i v e , so he went and s t a r t e d to phone everybody . . a l l my r e l a t i v e s , and he t o l d everybody at work, and then he phoned me t o t e l l me (laughter). So by the time I heard about i t , everybody e l s e knew. linen she t e l l s whom he c a l l e d , she l i s t s "my r e l a t i v e s " ' first;  s i n c e she was not a c t u a l l y p r e s e n t ,  t h i s was a c t u a l l y t r u e .  she c o u l d not know i f  Y e t she put r e l a t i v e s f i r s t because p r o -  b a b l y i n h e r own taind, t h i s was the n a t u r a l t h i n g t o d o . whole i n c i d e n t amused h e r , "last  The  but the f a c t t h a t she h e r s e l f was the  to hear" was e s p e c i a l l y funny,  s i n c e i t was such a b i z a r r e  t w i s t on what one would n o r m a l l y e x p e c t . Many o f the women assumed t h a t one would t e l l close r e l a t i v e s  first,  as t h e r e were s e v e r a l c o n v e r s a t i o n s  followed t h i s hypothetical MP:  pattern:  Oh, such and such a f r i e n d .  How about y o u r r e l a t i v e s ?  Informant: t o l d anyone  which  'fflbo d i d you t e l l about y o u r pregnancy?  Informant: MP:  one's  else.  Oh, I t o l d them when I f i r s t knew, before  I  30  C o n s i s t e n t l y , everyone i n the sample e x e r c i s e d some o r d e r t o p r i o r i t i e s because not t o t e l l c e r t a i n r e l a t i v e s e s p e c i a l l y the p a r e n t s o f b o t h husband and w i f e , etiquette  t h a t i s sure t o cause h a r d f e e l i n g s .  first,  is a breech of Many had gone  out o f t h e i r way to t e l l t h e i r p a r e n t s b e f o r e the i n f o r m a t i o n reached them second h a n d .  By the same t o k e n , o t h e r  categories  o f k i n and b e s t f r i e n d s are t o l d before the p u b l i c at  large.  S i s t e r s were f r e q u e n t l y named as h a v i n g a r i g h t t o know and o c c a s i o n a l l y aunts and u n c l e s  (whether m a t e r n a l o r p a t e r n a l  was u n s p e c i f i e d ) were m e n t i o n e d .  S i g n i f i c a n t l y , brothers  n e v e r mentioned, nor were husband's i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of t h i s  i s t h a t the  s i s t e r or brother.  were  My own  i n c e s t taboo l i m i t s communi-  c a t i o n between b r o t h e r and s i s t e r on i n f o r m a t i o n r e l a t e d t o s e x , and sex and pregnancy are l i n k e d by cause and e f f e c t culture.  As one man s a i d t o me, "When a woman becomes  you know f o r sure she has a sex l i f e . really  pregnant,  Before t h a t y o u ' r e not  sure." Of the o t h e r k i n c a t e g o r i e s ,  t i o n e d once, and c o u s i n s n e v e r . e r a l absence adult  i n our  grandparents  were men-  This probably r e f l e c t s  of I n t e r a c t i o n w i t h these categories  the g e n -  of k i n i n  life. To summarize, the i n f o r m a n t s  those who answered the q u e s t i o n n a i r e ,  I i n t e r v i e w e d , as w e l l as c o n s i s t e n t l y l i s t e d those  who had the r i g h t to know i n the f o l l o w i n g o r d e r : husband,  mother  and f a t h e r ,  less-  i n - l a w s , best f r i e n d s ,  sisters,  f r e q u e n t l y mentioned k i n and f r i e n d s . table,  and t h e n o t h e r  In the f o l l o w i n g geneology  the s o l i d areas i n d i c a t e those persons who have an a b s o l u t e  r i g h t t o know f i r s t , lege.  and the shaded ones have a secondary  privi-  Since most o f my informants were having t h e i r f i r s t  none mentioned c h i l d r e n as having a r i g h t t o know.  babie  Women w i t h  c h i l d r e n would perhaps have i n c l u d e d them i n t h e i r l i s t  of o b l i -  gations .  A 6 4AfaA  A ^ t=Jk <k ^  s  FIGURE 1  K i n who have a r i g h t t o know f i r s t about a pregnancy ( s o l i d areas) and those who may be told second  (Shaded areas).  Note that t h i s l i s t  of p r i o r i t i e s  those who have the right- t o know f i r s t ,  relates only to  and not t o those who  have p r e f e r e n c e when communicating o t h e r experiences r e l a t e d to  pregnancy, such as d i s c u s s i o n s o f p h y s i c a l symptoms and o f  c h i l d b i r t h i t s e l f , f o r which communication i s l i m i t e d e n t i r e l y to peer group members — medical p e r s o n n e l .  f r i e n d s and s i s t e r s  A d i s c u s s i o n o f t h i s appears  almost -- and  i n the l a s t  chapter. If parents and best f r i e n d s have a r i g h t t o hear the news f i r s t hand, the best way to i n s u r e t h i s i s t o t e l l them  32  first,  which might n e c e s s i t a t e postponing any announcement a t  all until  a v i s i t t o a d i s t a n t home or a phone c a l l o r l e t t e r . So i t appears  news f i r s t  that a woman i s o b l i g a t e d to break the  t o some o f h e r k i n , but having done so, she i s then  f r e e t o communicate f u l l y with h e r f r i e n d s and other peers, with whom she w i l l a c t u a l l y share the e x p e r i e n c e .  33 IV.  CARE AND SUPPORT  A l t h o u g h r e p r o d u c t i o n i s a normal p h y s i o l o g i c a l f u n c t i o n i n man, as w e l l as i n the r e s t of the a n i m a l w o r l d , woman i n many c u l t u r e s n e v e r t h e l e s s  a childbearing  r e c e i v e s the s e r v i c e s o f an  experienced and/or t r a i n e d p r a c t i t i o n e r .  In our own c u l t u r e ,  t h i s need i s s e r v e d by a s p e c i a l branch o f m e d i c i n e , and indeed most urban N o r t h Americans can not imagine h a v i n g a baby w i t h o u t the s e r v i c e s o f a q u a l i f i e d p h y s i c i a n f o r b o t h p r e - n a t a l  care  and d e l i v e r y . F u r t h e r m o r e , most women r e l y almost e n t i r e l y on the m e d i c a l p r o f e s s i o n t o t e l l them what to do d u r i n g pregnancy,  for  few women i n o u r c u l t u r e have had the p r a c t i c a l e x p e r i e n c e o f l i v i n g c l o s e l y w i t h pregnant example.  Life  one a n o t h e r , pregnant  women from whom they c o u l d take an  i n the n u c l e a r f a m i l y i s o l a t e s young women from  so t h a t what one l e a m s from the e x p e r i e n c e s o f  sister,  s i s t e r s - i n - l a w , c o u s i n s , a u n t s , and f r i e n d s  is  p i e c e m e a l and i s l i k e l y to focus on c e r t a i n a s p e c t s o f pregnancy w h i c h are worthy o f mention ( i . e . , nausea and o t h e r d i s c o m f o r t s ) , r a t h e r than on l i f e  i n g e n e r a l , w h i c h i s more s u b t l y  Consequently,  this often fosters  altered.  the n o t i o n t h a t  pregnancy i s an u n u s u a l (and t o some p e o p l e , even abnormal) c o n dition.  At the v e r y l e a s t ,  t h i s g i v e s i t an a i r o f m y s t e r y .  There i s a g e n e r a l b e l i e f t h a t h a v i n g a baby i s " h a r d " and fraught these  w i t h danger, factors.  but t h a t p r o p e r m e d i c a l care can m i n i m i z e  3k Moreover, few women o u t s i d e of t h e m e d i c a l p r o f e s s i o n have w i t n e s s e d the b i r t h o f a baby (human o r any o t h e r nor have t h e y even seen a woman i n l a b o u r . nurse who has taught p r e n a t a l c l a s s e s  species),  One p u b l i c h e a l t h  f o r many y e a r s makes i t a  p r a c t i c e t o ask h e r s t u d e n t s i f any have e v e r been w i t h a f r i e n d or r e l a t i v e d u r i n g l a b o u r , and r a r e l y g e t s an a f f i r m a t i v e r e p l y . T h i s i s because women areeremoved from normal p h y s i c a l and s o c i a l s u r r o u n d i n g s t o the s t r u c t u r e d environment of the h o s p i t a l bef o r e l a b o u r becomes advanced. In a d d i t i o n , the f a c t t h a t babies are born i n h o s p i t a l s , whereone u s u a l l y goes f o r treatment o f c r i t i c a l f o r c e s the  illness,  rein-  idea t h a t c h i l d b i r t h i s a m e d i c a l c r i s i s . A r t i c l e s which f r e q u e n t l y appear i n women's magazines  and o t h e r s e c t o r s o f the p o p u l a r p r e s s ,  have drawn a t t e n t i o n  to  the number o f hazardous s i t u a t i o n s which might d e v e l o p i f p r o p e r p r e n a t a l care i s not o b t a i n e d . the g r e a t t r u s t  F o r t h i s r e a s o n , and because o f  t h a t people p l a c e i n the m e d i c a l p r o f e s s i o n ,  women are g r a t e f u l f o r the a v a i l a b i l i t y o f m e d i c a l care d u r i n g pregnancy and w i l l go to l e n g t h s to o b t a i n i t : Informant: W e l l , we were i n the Queen C h a r l o t t e I s l a n d s , like. My husband was working down t h e r e . . . There's a f i r s t a i d man t h e r e who was s t u d y i n g t o become a d o c t o r and d i d n ' t , q u i t e f i n i s h because o f the war and t h e r e ' s nurses t h e r e now. But u s u a l l y the g i r l s go out t o have t h e i r baby. You know, ahead of the time they go o u t , w a i t t i l l the baby i s born and go b a c k . MP:  Do they go to Vancouver o r j u s t to the c l o s e s t  hospital?  Informant: Vancouver o r C h a r l o t t e C i t y . I t depends, you know. I f t h e y have r e l a t i v e s out here t h e y might sooner come out here and s t a y w i t h them.  35  MP:  Would i t have made you f e e l uneasy to be t h e r e now?  Informant: MP:  Yeah,  I think so.  Would you have been s c a r e d about  it?  Informant: I t h i n k I p r o b a b l y would be more so than b e i n g out h e r e . But out here I d o n ' t f i n d t h e r e ' s much to worry about. Y o u ' r e c l o s e to y o u r d o c t o r and the h o s p i t a l . %  Mien a d v i c e i s needed,  i t i s the d o c t o r who i s c a l l e d ,  to the e x c l u s i o n o f anyone e l s e ;  i f he were not a v a i l a b l e f o r  some r e a s o n ,  a n o t h e r member o f the m e d i c a l p r o f e s s i o n might be  substituted,  but a c c o r d i n g t o my i n f o r m a n t s ,  consult a r e l a t i v e or ffiend  r a r e l y would one  who i s a layman.  Students  p r e n a t a l c l a s s were s p e c i f i c a l l y warned a g a i n s t  i n one  a s k i n g anyone  o u t s i d e the m e d i c a l p r o f e s s i o n f o r a d v i c e o f any k i n d .  In case  the d o c t o r was not a v a i l a b l e , the s t u d e n t s were encouraged c a l l the p u b l i c h e a l t h u n i t i n the  to  area.  Informant: Oh, I t h i n k you s h o u l d ask y o u r d o c t o r . In C a l i f o r n i a , my d o c t o r s a i d , up t o seven months you can do what you want t o , j u s t d o n ' t overdo i t . Soon as you s t a r t f e e l ing t i r e d , r e s t . So t h a t ' s the way I d i d i t . I d i d n ' t a s k anybody. MP: Suppose you had a problem and you c a l l e d y o u r d o c t o r , and they s a i d t h a t h e ' s out o f town f o r a week, who would be y o u r second c h o i c e ? Informant:  Well,  I ' d ask my s i s t e r ,  because she i s a n u r s e .  Informant: I f e l t good when I was about months p r e g n a n t . I d i d n ' t even f e e l p r e g n a n t . w i t h t h i s g i r l f r i e n d - - s h e ' s due on the 2 5 t h , f o r e I am - - I was t a l k i n g to h e r about t h i n g s t h i n g s you s h o u l d not and she s a i d h e r d o c t o r y o u ' r e used to d o i n g n o r m a l l y .  four or five And I was t a l k i n g about two days beyou should do and says do a n y t h i n g  36 MP:  Do you ask y o u own d o c t o r ?  Informant: Oh, yeah, to Vancouver . . .  I asked my d o c t o r when I came back  MP: I f you have a q u e s t i o n about what you s h o u l d o r s h o u l d n ' t do, do you t a l k i t o v e r w i t h t h i s g i r l f r i e n d , o r do you ask y o u r d o c t o r ? Informant:  . . . Oh, I u s u a l l y ask my d o c t o r e v e n t u a l l y .  Informant: I w r i t e down a l l the q u e s t i o n s t h a t I h a v e . He (the doctorT t e a s e s me about b e i n g so o r g a n i z e d . And he gave me an e x c e l l e n t book t o read . . . t h a t r e l i e v e s him o f h a v i n g to t e l l me a l l these t h i n g s . A l l I do i s q u e s t i o n him about the t h i n g s I wonder a b o u t . In the d i s c h a r g e o f t h e i r d u t i e s , however, many d o c t o r s can not spare the support t o t h e i r p a t i e n t s . perfunctory  time a n d / o r do not w i s h t o o f f e r m o r a l Some women f e e l t h a t the d o c t o r  is  i n h i s d u t i e s and f i n d t h i s d i s a p p o i n t i n g .  Informant: I'm s o r t of d i s a p p o i n t e d . Maybe t h i s i s what you get from g o i n g t o a g e n e r a l p r a c t i t i o n e r and not an obstetrician. L i k e he always asks me, "Is t h e r e a n y t h i n g t h a t y o u ' d l i k e to ask me?" and I just say, " N o . " Because r e a l l y , a h , I mean, I d o n ' t know what to ask h i m . What i s t h e r e to ask him? . . . And i t ' s s o r t o f d i s a p p o i n t i n g because u n l e s s you took these c l a s s e s and d i d a l o t o f r e a d i n g on y o u r own from books t h a t you would get — R e a l l y , my d o c t o r has t o l d me n o t h i n g . Indeed, d u r i n g pregnancy, p h y s i c a l care and e m o t i o n a l support come from s e p a r a t e sources i n our s o c i e t y .  (See C h a p t e r V)  Pew d o c t o r s have the time t o c a r e f o r more than immediate p h y s i c a l needs o f t h e i r p a t i e n t s and do not seek to become more i n v o l v e d i n t h e i r p e r s o n a l l i v e s than i s n e c e s s a r y  to f u l f i l l  this  function.  Many women express some h o s t i l i t y f o r the f a c t t h a t d o c t o r s and nurses are so unconcerned about what i s to them one of the most  37 Important  events  view, medicine  i n t h e i r l i v e s ; while from the o t h e r p o i n t o f  as i t i s p r a c t i c e d  i n l a r g e urban areas seeks  to  routing©;"! r e c u r r i n g events such as o c c u r i n pregnancy i n o r d e r to ing  give u n i f o r m l y high performance  i n the t e c h n i c a l sense,  the patiient's emotional needs to o t h e r s .  So while the p a t i e n t  i s dependent upon her doctor, t h i s dependence i s not Wno  leav-  mutual.  can a pregnant woman look to f o r support?  The  person w i t h whom she has primary d a i l y contact i n most cases i s her husband. ing to  The husbands of women i n my  sample o f f e r e d a vary-  range o f support from none at a l l to a f u l l and eager d e s i r e share the pregnancy experience w i t h t h e i r wives. Most of the  women, however, found that t h e i r husbands shared many o f the same a n x i e t i e s about i t was  impending  parenthood,  and that t h e r e f o r e  necessary to look beyond the home f o r h e l p . Likewise, mothers, aunts, and  others of ascending gene-  r a t i o n s might be c o n s i d e r e d I l l - e q u i p p e d to p r o v i d e support cause  i n the f i r s t  are thought  p l a c e , they may  be-  be u n a v a i l a b l e or because they  t o be " o l d f a s h i o n e d . "  It  Is p o s s i b l e t h a t , because of North American n e o - l o c a l  r e s i d e n c e r u l e s , n u c l e a r f a m i l y l i v i n g groups, the need f o r moral support d u r i n g t h i s c r i t i c a l might be l e f t  unfulfilled  i f f r i e n d s and  and h i g h m o b i l i t y , time  i n l i f e «;  other peers were not  so f r e e and easy when communicating t h e i r p e r s o n a l experiences during pregnancy and to  thereby p e r m i t t i n g frequent o p p o r t u n i t i e s  ventilate feelings.  I f e e l s t r o n g l y that t h i s  i s why  most  people f i n d t h i s a c t i v i t y not o n l y s a t i s f y i n g , but a l s o v e r y necessary, as i t provides mutual support among the that i s u n a v a i l a b l e through any o t h e r means.  conversants  38 Also, prenatal classes, medical p r o f e s s i o n , help to f i l l  which are an adjunct  the  t h i s need by b r i n g i n g women  t o g e t h e r f o r the purpose o f d i s c u s s i n g s u b j e c t s Thus, women who have t h e i r babies i e n c e a dilemma.  to  o f mutual c o n c e r n .  i n our c u l t u r e  exper-  On the one hand they are w e l l informed and g i v e n  the b e s t p h y s i c a l care a v a i l a b l e , a s i t u a t i o n which s h o u l d l e a d to g r e a t e r  self-confidence.  Y e t , t h e i r extreme dependence on  the m e d i c a l p r o f e s s i o n and on h o s p i t a l s , combined with, t h e i r l a c k of personal experience i n t h i s area,  takes away the  sense  t h a t r e p r o d u c t i o n i s a n a t u r a l , normal f u n c t i o n and l e n d s  to  the whole e x p e r i e n c e an i m p e r s o n a l q u a l i t y and i n t e n s i f i e s sense o f f e a r .  It i s e s s e n t i a l , therefore,  the  t h a t f r i e n d s and  o t h e r s be p e r m i t t e d the l i b e r t y o f d i s c u s s i n g t h i n g s w h i c h might o t h e r w i s e be c o n s i d e r e d t o o p e r s o n a l f o r open c o n v e r s a t i o n , t o h e l p t o compensate f o r t h i s l o n e l i n e s s . Notably, professionals  i n the area o f c h i l d b i r t h edu-  c a t i o n have n o t i c e d an i n c r e a s e I n the number o f c o u p l e s who want t o have t h e i r b a b i e s at home, away from the i n s t i t u t i o n a l ised hospital setting, conditions  where r u l e s and the n e c e s s i t y f o r  i s o l a t e the mother from h e r husband, f a m i l y ,  f r i e n d s d u r i n g d e l i v e r y and the days i m m e d i a t e l y The presence  sanitary and  thereafter.  o f t h i s t r e n d i n d i c a t e s t h a t some people are  seek-  i n g new a l t e r n a t i v e means o f a s s u r i n g moral support d u r i n g t h i s life  crisis. For pregnancy i s i n e v i t a b l y a l i f e  c r i s i s on a p e r s o n a l  scale;  o n l y the f o c a l p o i n t o f t h i s c r i s i s i s c u l t u r a l l y d e t e r -  mined.  '.Ihile t h i s i s more t r u e o f women h a v i n g f i r s t b a b i e s who  39 are f a c i n g the unknown, i t a l s o a p p l i e s to second and experiences,  subsequent  since each experience i s unique.  Informants  f r e q u e n t l y r e p o r t t h a t f r i e n d s and  strangers  are u n u s u a l l y s o l i c i t o u s d u r i n g the f i n a l phases o f pregnancy, and the q u e s t i o n ,  "How are you k e e p i n g ? " i s f r e q u e n t l y  asked.  T h i s q u e s t i o n i s i n f a c t s p e c i f i c t o pregnant women, r e p l a c i n g the u s u a l "How are y o u ? " t h a t i s asked o f everyone e l s e .  Non-  v e r b a l g e s t u r e s o f r e s p e c t are a l s o common, such as p r o v i d i n g a seat i n crowded p l a c e s , air, fact,  opening the window to p r o v i d e  p r o v i d i n g refreshments,  fresh  and o t h e r a c t s o f c a t e r i n g .  In  a new fad attempts to c a p i t a l i z e on these customs.  Two  New Y o r k d e s i g n e r s have begun m a n u f a c t u r i n g a s p e c i a l l y - s h a p e d pillow,  c a l l e d the Pwf, which can be worn by non-pregnant women  t o s i m u l a t e the l o o k o f pregnancy, and thus to reap the o f pregnancy w i t h o u t i t s consequences. f i n d these s p e c i a l a t t e n t i o n s  rewards  Yet, in real l i f e ,  amusing, as they are  g e s t u r e s t o someone who i s " f e e l i n g j u s t f i n e " .  many  unnecessary  I asked one man  why he was always so s o l i c i t o u s o f the comfort o f pregnant women and he r e p l i e d t h a t i t made him f e e l b e t t e r tio know he had done something h e l p f u l ,  i n d i c a t i n g t h a t he knows t h a t some s o r t o f  h e l p i s needed and t r i e s t o p r o v i d e i t i n h i s own way. People i n our c u l t u r e are aware t h a t a woman who i s about t o have a baby i s e x p e r i e n c i n g a c r i s i s , they r e a d i l y p r o v i d e moral s u p p o r t ,  f o r not o n l y do  but they a l s o u n c o n s c i o u s l y  p r a c t i c e a s p e c i a l p r o t e c t i v e measure.  T h i s i s an i n f o r m a l  taboo  on the word " p a i n " when t a l k i n g t o a pregnant woman about h e r  ho impending l a b o u r and d e l i v e r y , a s u b j e c t  which frequently  dom-  i n a t e s h e r thoughts and c o n v e r s a t i o n d u r i n g the f i n a l weeks o f pregnancy.  F r e q u e n t l y , m i l d e r synonyms such as " d i s c o m f o r t " ' o r  "ache" are e u p h e m i s t i c a l l y s u b s t i t u t e d ,  but the word p a i n  itself  i s c o n s p i c u o u s l y absent from the t a l k I both o v e r h e a r d and t o o k part i n .  Y e t , i n o u r language,  one meaning o f the word p a i n has  a s p e c i a l connection with c h i l d b i r t h : (I9I45)  defines  pains  birth;  labor . . . "  i n our l i t e r a t u r e assumptions.  Webster's  New I n t e r n a t i o n a l  ( p l u r a l ) as "the t h r o e s o r t r a v a i l o f c h i l d The p a i n o f c h i l d b i r t h i s a r e c u r r i n g theme  and f o l k l o r e and i s p r o b a b l y i n g r a i n e d i n our  Indeed,  most women (even i f not a l l ) do e x p e r i e n c e  some degree o f p a i n d u r i n g l a b o u r .  Still,  we do not say  this  word to a woman who i s about t o have a baby, nor does she h e r s e l f say i t a l o u d , at l e a s t  in public.  One r e a s o n why t h i s  i s so may be t h a t everyone  c u l t u r e f e a r s p a i n and seeks m e d i c a l a i d to p r e v e n t it.  Indeed,  day l i f e ,  and r e l i e v e  i n t e n s e p a i n i s not g e n e r a l l y encountered  except  i n the c o n t e x t o f m i s f o r t u n e .  b o t h i n e v i t a b l e and i n e s c a p a b l e ,  i n our  i n every-  Y e t as b i r t h  one must face up to the  i l i t y t h a t i t might be an i n t e n s e l y p a i n f u l e x p e r i e n c e .  is  possibThe  taboo on u s i n g the word shows t h a t t h e s e are thoughts w h i c h one keeps s e c r e t , o r shares o n l y w i t h a c o n f i d a n t e . subject  to be spoken o f l i g h t l y .  It  i s not a  A p p a r e n t l y , the word p a i n  p o w e r f u l l y s y m b o l i z e s the whole range o f e m o t i o n a l l y charged I d e a s ; by a v o i d i n g the word i t s e l f ,  one i s spared the  of b r i n g i n g a p r i v a t e c o n f l i c t out i n t o p u b l i c v i e w .  anxiety Rather,  the it  p u b l i c d e n i a l of t h i s  f e a r r e f l e c t s the a t t i t u d e , "ignore  and i t w i l l go away." By the same token, t a c t f u l persons avoid the use of  the  word i n the presence of a pregnant woman so as not to  a r o u s i n g emotions handle.  that  they themselves are not prepared to  People i n our c u l t u r e seem to know, i n t u i t i v e l y ,  j u s t as one does not t a l k about death to a person who ally  ill,  risk  that  is critic-  one a l s o would be i r r e s p o n s i b l e to mention p a i n to  someone who  i s a l r e a d y worried about i t .  A second r e a s o n stems from t h i s .  The f e a r t h a t  one  w i l l not be a b l e to a c t i n a d i g n i f i e d o r s o c i a l l y a c c e p t a b l e manner d u r i n g the s t r e s s o f l a b o u r i s a troublesome someone about t o experience i t f o r the f i r s t  thought to  time.  Informant: You don't know what t o expect and you don't know how you'11 r e a c t .  Informant: T h i s i s what scares me, that I don't want to make an i d i o t o f m y s e l f . I r e a l i z e that people take t h i n g s differently. Some people can take more p a i n ' * than o t h e r s . And sometimes what you t h i n k i s p a i n f u l i s not p a i n f u l to the next. ( * The informant's o b l i q u e use of the word p a i n o c c u r r e d a f t e r about 5>0 minutes o f t a l k , d u r i n g which we had become remarkably f r a n k and t r u t h f u l . It was as i f she was c o n f i d i n g In me.) T h i r d l y , current approaches  to c h i l d b i r t h p l a c e major  emphasis upon the more p o s i t i v e elements of emotional f u l f i l l m e n t i n the act o f g i v i n g b i r t h , Proponents  thus de-emphasizing  of " n a t u r a l c l h i l d b i r t b "  been e n t h u s i a s t i c  any p a i n  involved.  i n i t s v a r i e d forms, have  i n support of v a r i o u s methods f o r overcoming  f e a r and ptions  tension,  of  this  challenging only the  way  one  of  of  experience  our  can  of  disrepute;  current  use  by  assumptions  confirm  been r e p l a c e d  by  a c t i o n of the  the  nervous  the  i n f o r m a n t was Early  major reason f o r her  shared  She  family, their  receive  thing  to  assum-  thus  has  By  called  drawing  fallen  vocabulary  of  into a terms  a labour  a term which  Yet,  pain  in has  describes  i t s reaction  on  i s one three  of  She the  had  t a l k , she  acceptance  and  her  openness  seven s i s t e r s  o f whom had  had  d i f f e r e n t i n her  the and  herself quite possible  lies  openly  reactions  i n her  family  from a c l o s e l y - k n i t  already during  opportunity support  response  had  c h i l d r e n and  frequent to  visits  had and  v e r b a l i z e her  o f t h o s e who  fears  meant some-  her. On  about her  t o be  f e e l i n g s about p a i n  experiences with her  phone c a l l s . and  i n the  i n our  to  Italian  itself  noticeably  her  situation.  basic  childbirth.  muscles, r a t h e r than  volunteered One  word  what u s e d  uterine  idea of pain.  i t .  the  system.  One the  concerning  the word " c o n t r a c t i o n " ,  the  and  o r deny t h e s e b e l i e f s .  f o r instance,  laymen,  to pain,  t h i n k i n g have become w e l l known,  emphasis away f r o m p a i n ,  sort  to  which c o n t r i b u t e  the  worries  other  hand, a n o t h e r  to a close  informant  avoided t a l k i n g  relative:  Informant: I r e a l l y don't l i k e t o t e l l h e r ( s i s t e r - i n - l a w ) t o o much about m y s e l f b e c a u s e she was a r e g i s t e r e d n u r s e , and she had an o b s t e t r i c i a n and she f e e l s t h a t I s h o u l d have one. She's one o f t h e s e p e o p l e who f e e l s t h a t i f y o u ' r e g o i n g t o have a baby you s h o u l d go t o a baby d o c t o r . I d o n ' t know, s h e ' s a l w a y s t e l l i n g me about bad t h i n g s , n e v e r a n y t h i n g good . . . When f i r s t I got p r e g n a n t , I had a p a i n i n my s i d e and s h e ' d say, "Oh, you  1*3  might have a pregnancy i n the t u b e , and have to go to the h o s p i t a l and have i t removed o r s o m e t h i n g . " I t ' s never a n y t h i n g g o o d . I t ' s always a l l the bad t h i n g s . . . MP: So you d o n ' t t a l k much about she's going to . . .  i t because y o u ' r e a f r a i d  Informant: - - t e l l me bad t h i n g s , w h i c h I know she w i l l . She n e v e r t e l l s me good t h i n g s ; they are always bad t h i n g s . Once I r e a l i z e d t h a t t h i s taboo e x i s t s ,  I became  aware o f the l e n g t h s t o w h i c h some persons w i l l go t o a v o i d  the  word p a i n , even where i t s use would not o n l y have been o t h e r w i s e appropriate,  but a l s o would have conveyed the meaning more  a c c u r a t e l y than the synonyms which were s u b s t i t u t e d . class instructors rarely, about l a b o u r .  Prenatal  i f e v e r , use the word when t a l k i n g  One h i g h l y - s k i l l e d t e a c h e r w i t h many y e a r s  e x p e r i e n c e , however, d i d use the word t o d e s c r i b e a p a r t i c u l a r l y c r i t i c a l stage i n l a b o u r , but o n l y a f t e r the t r u s t  of her students.  she had c a r e f u l l y won  When I q u e s t i o n e d h e r a f t e r  class,  she s a i d t h a t , though she had not g i v e n i t much c o n s c i o u s thought,  p a i n was i n f a c t a word she s h i e d away from i n h e r  classes.  She f e l t t h a t o t h e r s d i d l i k e w i s e .  by another t e a c h e r ,  T h i s was confirmed  who uses the word o n l y i n c a r e f u l l y guarded  c o n t e x t s and i n s t r u c t s h e r f e l l o w t e a c h e r s to do l i k e w i s e . Yet,  though the word i s a b s e n t , the i d e a i s  conve^retJsL by the frequent tractions",  use o f such p h r a s e s as " s t r o n g c o n -  "hard l a b o u r , " " t o s s and moan",  drugs as " p a i n k i l l e r s " ,  still  by r e f e r r i n g  to  and by t e a c h i n g t h a t c e r t a i n methods  o f b r e a t h i n g and body p o s i t i o n i n g can r e l i e v e " d i s c o m f o r t " and "tension".  In o t h e r words, i t  i s p r o p e r to t a l k of l a b o u r as  kh h a r d work, a time o f g r e a t s t r e s s , i n t e l l i g e n t management, suffering  i s too  as r e q u i r i n g endurance and  and so on, but t o r e f e r d i r e c t l y t o  threatening.  The way t h a t people a c t i n t u i t i v e l y to a v o i d  this  d e l i c a t e i s s u e i s one example which r e i n f o r c e s my b e l i e f  that  t h e r e i s a d e f i n a b l e communication code to d e a l w i t h pregnancy i n our c u l t u r e , and t h a t I t s parameters  are w e l l  People r e c e i v e no i n s t r u c t i o n s about how t o a c t y e t they "know" what t o do;  understood. in this  b e h a v i o r by and toward  women i s not random, but conforms t o a p a t t e r n .  pregnant  T h i s can o n l y  come from g<msping the u n d e r l y i n g assumptions from which behavior a r i s e s .  area,  the  T h i s u n d e r s t a n d i n g shapes the k i n d of s p e c i a l  b e h a v i o r w h i c h passes between pregnant  women and  others.  Hence, c l u e s as t o the n a t u r e o f these u n d e r l y i n g factors  can be g a i n e d from the c o n t e n t  t h a t pregnant  of the  conversations  women have among themselves and w i t h  Three b a s i c g e n e r a l i z a t i o n s can be made i n t h i s 1) T a l k c e n t e r s  others.  regard:  on h a v i n g the baby, not on the baby  itself; 2) There i s a preponderant  concern w i t h p h y s i c a l w e l l -  b e i n g , w i t h b i r t h i t s e l f , and with, the c o m p l i c a t i o n s w h i c h commo n l y o c c u r even d u r i n g " n o r m a l " p r e g n a n c i e s ,  and  3 ) These concerns are i n v e r i a b l y i n t e r p r e t e d t h r o u g h knowledge o f p h y s i o l o g y and m e d i c a l p r o c e d u r e s ,  the o n l y body o f  b e l i e f that i s considered r e l e v a n t . So much t a l k about the p h y s i c a l a s p e c t s o f pregnancy suggests t h a t o u r assumptions about pregnancy stem from b e l i e f s  about  birth  itself  and i t s r e l a t i o n s h i p  t o the b i o l o g i c a l  f u n c t i o n o f women. Birth, death,  and i n o u r c u l t u r e  mediate Low  this  maternal  solution. able,  source  of l i f e ,  and i n f a n t  mortality  death  our assumptions  about  life-death Still,  science our  t o the s u c c e s s o f t h i s  we b e l i e v e t o be c o m p l e t e l y  i t i s the r e s u l t —  o f poor  a.scandal  avoid-  medical  perhaps.  o r damage a t b i r t h .  Hence, f e a r o f d e a t h  basic  attest  and i s a s e n s e l e s s t r a g e d y infant  be t h e c a u s e o f  o f t e n s i o n and r e s o l v e i t i n f a v o u r o f l i f e .  and i f i t d o e s o c c u r ,  too with  its  can a l s o  we r e l y upon m e d i c a l p r a c t i c e t o  Death i n c h i l d b i r t h  management So  the source  p l a y s no s i g n i f i c a n t  p r e g n a n c y and b i r t h ,  role i n  f o r we have r e s o l v e d  aspects.  even d e s p i t e the s u c c e s s f u l  and technology  o f medicine,  reliance  b i r t h remains  upon t h e  a crisis i n  culture. I suggest  physical life  realities  itself,  that  i s because  i t brings together the  of p r o c r e a t i o n with the profound  a duality  mysteries of  which s c i e n c e has n o t r e s o l v e d .  woman, a g i v e r o f l i f e , hence s y m b o l i z e s  this  i s i n touch w i t h t h i s  t h e power o f n a t u r e ,  A  pregnant  phenomenon, and  o v e r w h i c h no one h a s  control. In of  circumstances  women ing  the middle  (including,  class  gives rise  s e c t o r o f our c u l t u r e ,  to indulgent behavior  f o rinstance,  t h e word " p a i n " ) ,  the p r o t e c t i v e  this set  toward  pregnant  device of avoid-  which a r e s i g n s o f r e s p e c t , not j u s t f o r  U6  the woman h e r s e l f ,  but f o r the s y m b o l i c n a t u r e o f h e r pregnant  condition. Other forms o f b e h a v i o r w h i c h r e l a t e to t h i s are many. Occasionally,  i t i s s t a t e d o v e r t l y , as i n the  case of a  general  p r a c t i t i o n e r who t o l d me t h a t t h e r e i s a "magic" ( h i s word) about a pregnant woman which causes him to f e e l awe i n h e r  presence.  And the s e n t i m e n t a l n o t i o n t h a t "a woman i s n e v e r more than when she i s pregnant" p e r s i s t s ,  beautiful  even though the " f a t "  of a pregnant woman runs c o u n t e r to o t h e r s t a n d a r d s o f ness i n the  image  attractive-  culture.  S e v e r a l informants  t o l d me t h a t some men f e e l s e x u a l l y  a t t r a c t e d to pregnant women, as w e l l ,  though statements of t h i s  n a t u r e may a l s o be c o n s i d e r e d by some to be funny o r r i d i c u l o u s , as a pregnant woman i s c o n s i d e r e d by some to be i n a s e p a r a t e category  sexually. L a u g h t e r o r r i d i c u l e , as i n the above case,  e x p r e s s i v e o f a n o t h e r frequent  i s i n fact  response to pregnant women —  h o s t i l i t y — w h i c h i s u s u a l l y m i l d l y expressed t h r o u g h humour, but which i s o c c a s i o n a l l y e x p r e s s e d o p e n l y i n anger and Examples:  A pregnant woman dressed  insult.  i n s h o r t s was approached by  a m i d d l e aged man who sneered and s a i d : " D o n ' t you l o o k c u t e " ; o r , a man makes a p o i n t o f a d m i r i n g the s l i m n e s s o f h i s friends  i n front  wife's  of her.  H o s t i l i t y l o g i c a l l y stems from the t h r e a t posed by the power i m p l i c i t predict  i n the metaphor o f woman as l i f e - g i v e r .  t h a t h o s t i l i t y i s expressed by 1) men who do not  One can possess  hi adequate compensatory  e x p r e s s i o n s o f maleness,  2) women who are  p h y s i o l o g i c a l l y unable to bear c h i l d r e n o r who are s i n g l e and wish t o be married and have a f a m i l y , and 3) to a much l e s s e r extent, other non-pregnant  women i n s i t u a t i o n s which arouse  j e a l o u s y , i . e . , when a pregnant woman i s g e t t i n g a l l the a t t e n t i o n . Thus, c u l t u r a l l y t r a n s m i t t e d f e e l i n g s about the f u n c t i o n of  women as g i v e r s o f l i f e  shapes the be.havior, both v e r b a l and  non-verbal, that people e x h i b i t towards pregnant women.  Though  c e r t a i n s p e c i f i c behaviors are l e a r n e d through repeated contact in appropriate s i t u a t i o n s , facing a social  i t can s t i l l be argued that a person  s i t u a t i o n i n v o l v i n g pregnant women f o r the f i r s t  time w i l l have an i n t u i t i v e f e e l f o r i t , o r w i l l  at l e a s t know  that some specia]|behavior i s c a l l e d f o r , and w i l l prob&bly a c t appropriately.  V.  In t h i s e s s a y ,  CONCLUSIONS  I have d i s c u s s e d pregnancy as the  focus  of a p a r t i c u l a r type o f communication i n o u r c u l t u r e , a p r o c e s s by w h i c h women l e a r n t o o r i e n t themselves t o the p h y s i c a l and s o c l a l ^ r e a l i t i e s o f pregnancy and motherhood by s h a r i n g these experiences with  others.  W i t h i n t h i s g e n e r a l framework,  five  relevant  can be d i s t i n g u i s h e d w i t h i n which communication takes  groups place.  Each group i n v o l v e s d i s t i n c t types o f r e l a t i o n s h i p s , and forms of behavior.  One i s based upon o b l i g a t i o n , another  on c h o i c e ,  and the t h i r d on e x i g e n c y , a f o u r t h on r e c o g n i t i o n , and a  fifth  on commercial p r o f i t . Obligation friends,  Her husband, p a r e n t s ,  and o t h e r kin-'i types  d e f i n e d by o b l i g a t i o n . first  (see Chapter I I I )  in-laws,  best  form a group  These persons have a r i g h t to be the  t o know about h e r pregnancy,  to r e c e i v e u n s o l i c i t e d r e -  p o r t s on h e r h e a l t h and w e l f a r e , and i n the o p i n i o n o f some, be c o n s u l t e d on such m a t t e r s as naming.  The' o b l i g a t i o n i s m u t u a l ,  f o r i t i s t h i s group to whom she has the r i g h t to l o o k f o r tance f i n a n c i a l l y  i f need be,  f o r s p e c i a l care  based on the exchange o f Choice - of peers,  assis-  ( i . e . , help with  housework and o t h e r c h o r e s ) , home n u r s i n g ( i . e . , p o s t - n a t a l and f o r e m o t i o n a l s u p p o r t .  to  care),  R e l a t i o n s h i p s w i t h i n t h i s group are affect.  By c o n t r a s t ,  a second group i s comprised  w i t h i n whom the r e l a t i o n s h i p s are p r i m a r i l y based on  h9 the exchange o f shared e x p e r i e n c e s . and a c q u a i n t a n c e s ,  In t h i s group are  as w e l l as s i s t e r s ,  friends  who have themselves been  o r who are now pregnant and who are t h e r e f o r e w i l l i n g to t a l k about t h e i r own e x p e r i e n c e s .  Between such i n d i v i d u a l s ,  a mutual  feedback o f i n f o r m a t i o n p e r m i t s the p a r t i c i p a n t s to o r i e n t thems e l v e s r e g a r d i n g the e x p e r i e n c e and t o a s s e s s how t h e i r own exp e r i e n c e f i t s i n t o the u n i v e r s a l phenomenon o f c h i l d b e a r i n g . Among t h i s group may be f r i e n d s known b e f o r e the pregnancy,  as  w e l l as persons met at p r e n a t a l c l a s s e s who share i n common n o t h i n g more than the pregnancy;  o f course,  and s i s t e r s may a l s o be i n t h i s c a t e g o r y ,  since best  friends  there i s obviously  some o v e r l a p p i n g w i t h the p r e v i o u s g r o u p . Exigency — Medical personnel — doctors, nurses, p r e n a t a l c l a s s t e a c h e r s - - comprise the t h i r d group, by the p h y s i c a l e x i g e n c i e s a r i s i n g from p r e g n a n c y . t i o n s h i p to a pregnant  and  defined Their rela-  woman i s based on (-exchange o f knowledge  and i n f o r m a t i o n needed to i n s u r e the p h y s i c a l w e l l - b e i n g o f mother and c h i l d .  She goes t o t h e s e persons s e e k i n g i n f o r m a t i o n and  c a r e , and t h e y respond by o f f e r i n g a s e r v i c e based on the body o f m e d i c a l knowledge.  In t h i s group, t h e r e f o r e ,  accepted  the communi-  c a t i o n i s s e e m i n g l y o n e - s i d e d , w i t h the woman always t a k i n g and the d o c t o r , n u r s e ,  o r t e a c h e r always g i v i n g .  However, t h i s e x -  change i s b a l a n c e d w i t h the payment o f a fee f o r the s e r v i c e . Thus, the exchange i n t h i s group i s more i m p e r s o n a l than i n the o t h e r two g r o u p s . T h i s f a c t o r e x p l a i n s why, a l t h o u g h t h e r e may be o v e r l a p p i n g between persons i n t h i s group and the c h o i c e group - -  50  i . e . , a f r i e n d may a l s o be a nurse -- o r w i t h persons i n t h e o b l i g a t i o n group -- i . e . , a f a t h e r may a l s o be a d o c t o r , it  i s n e v e r t h e l e s s t r u e t h a t when o v e r l a p p i n g o c c u r s i n t h i s  a r e a , the person i n v o l v e d . d o e s once.  not s e r v e b o t h f u n c t i o n s a t  That i s , he o r she e i t h e r serves i n a p r o f e s s i o n a l o r  a p e r s o n a l c a p a c i t y , not b o t h .  Under these c i r c u m s t a n c e s , i n  f a c t , such a p e r s o n i s almost c e r t a i n t o opt f o r t h e p e r s o n a l r e l a t i o n s h i p , f o r i f a f a t h e r i s a l s o a d o c t o r , he w i l l , of course b r i n g - s p e c i a l knowledge t o the r e l a t i o n s h i p , but r a r e l y would he attempt t o e x e r c i s e i t , to non-kin.  leaving this function instead  T h i s i s p e r f e c t l y c o n s i s t e n t w i t h the n o t i o n t h a t  m e d i c a l p e r s o n n e l must not become p e r s o n a l l y i n v o l v e d w i t h patients.  By t h e same t o k e n , pregnant women have t o l o o k t o  persons i n the o t h e r groups f o r the support and c o n f i r m a t i o n they need. Thus, t r u e o v e r l a p p i n g between t h i s group and t h e o t h e r two i s n o t p o s s i b l e ;  FIGURE 2  i t may m e r e l y t o u c h them:  F i v e spheres o f communication d u r i n g pregnancy and t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p t o each o t h e r .  51 The two r e m a i n i n g c a t e g o r i e s - - r e c o g n i t i o n and commerc i a l profit effect.  i n v o l v e f l e e t i n g c o n t a c t s which l e a v e no l a s t i n g  R e c o g n i t i o n by s t r a n g e r s o f a woman's pregnant c o n d i t i o n  may o r may not evoke s p e c i a l b e h a v i o r on h e r b e h a l f .  Por  instance,  o t h e r women may s m i l e i n a s p e c i a l "knowing" way when eye i s made, o r s t r a n g e r s may o f f e r c o u r t e s i e s  contact  w h i c h would not  be  extended t o non-pregnant women, such as o f f e r i n g a s e a t on a b u s . Thus, r e c o g n i t i o n , w h i l e o f no l a s t i n g consequence,  plays a role  i n d e f i n i n g pregnancy as a s p e c i a l c o n d i t i o n . Commercial p r o f i t  - - i s made from pregnant women by  s t o r e s w h i c h s e l l m a t e r n i t y and i n f a n t wear,  and by  insurance  companies which s t a n d to g a i n by p r o v i d i n g a d d i t i o n a l to p r o s p e c t i v e attention profit  parents.  coverage  Should a pregnant woman r e c e i v e  from these o r g a n i z a t i o n s ,  it  special  i s p r o b a b l y m o t i v i t a d by  incentives. Therefore,  obligation,  it  i s the f i r s t  three of these c a t e g o r i e s  c h o i c e , and e x i g e n c y — which Impinge most  --  directly  on the l i f e o f a pregnant woman. I have d i s t i n g u i s h e d between of t h r e e d i m e n s i o n s : p a r t i c i p a n t s , function. Group  In a diagram,  these groups  c o n t e n t of exchange,  the parameters l o o k l i k e  | Obligation  on the  >  Choice  basis  and  this: » Exigency  Participants: Kin > Best F r i e n d s —> F r i e n d s — • M e d i c a l P e r s o n n e l Content o f Exchange: Affect ^ E x p e r i e n c e —r>Informat i o n Function: Support * * O r i e n t a t i o n —^Physical care FIGURE 3 Parameters w h i c h d i s t i n g u i s h between spheres o f communication d u r i n g pregnancy.  52 Prom t h i s , forms a continuum to impersonal,  i t i s evident  that each o f the dimensions  ( i n d i c a t e d by the arrows) going  from closeness  to d i s t a n c e .  from  personal  It i s possible,  there-  f o r e , t o use t h i s diagram to map r e l a t i o n s h i p s on the b a s i s of any  or a l l o f the dimensions, and t o assess  the r e l a t i o n s h i p a  person i s l i k e l y t o have w i t h a woman a c c o r d i n g l y .  On the b a s i s  of t h i s continuum, i t i s .rreadily apparent why b e h a v i o r appropriate  to some r e l a t i o n s h i p s i s i n a p p r o p r i a t e  so on -- why, f o r instance,  the c l o s e r the f r i e n d ,  d^.ei'b- '':) o b l i g a t i o n she may be asked t o take, can o f f e r a d i f f e r e n t  which i s  t o others and the more  o r why a nurse  s o r t of comfort than a good f r i e n d c a n .  Pregnant women i n our s o c i e t y thus can f u n c t i o n w i t h i n a communication network which i s p o t e n t i a l l y extensive t i a l l y capable o f answering a v a r i e t y of needs. of view,  and poten-  From t h i s  point  the power o f the network i s i t s a b i l i t y t o u n i t e the  uniqueness of each i n d i v i d u a l experience phenomenon o f p r o c r e a t i o n .  w i t h the u n i v e r s a l  V  53 APPENDIX  QUESTIONNAIRE  1.  When d i d y o u a n n o u n c e y o u r p r e g n a n c y t o  2.  Who was t h e fflho was  first  others?  person you t o l d ?  next?  3.  Do some p e o p l e have a r i g h t  t o know b e f o r e  others?  Ii.  What d i d p e o p l e s a y when y o u t o l d them? what worsts d i d t h e y u s e t o e x p r e s s t h e i r  5.  A r e m a r r i e d women e x p e c t e d t o become  6.  D i d a n y o n e q u e s t i o n y o u a b o u t y o u r p l a n s t o have a  I f you can feelings?  Who a n d  remember,  pregnant? family?  Who ?  Were t h e s e p e r s o n s control?  a l s o c u r i o u s a b o u t y o u r methods o f b i r t h Who?  7.  What s o r t  8.  D i d you f e e l expectations  9.  Were y o u more w i l l i n g t o d i s c u s s t h e s e s u b j e c t s w i t h some p e o p l e and n o t w i t h o t h e r s ? Who and why?  10.  Is anyone u r g i n g y o u t o 'Why?  of questions  d i d people  ask?  any p r e s s u r e t o c o n f o r m t o someone i n t h i s regard?  limit  the  s i z e of your  else's  family?  T h a n k y o u v e r y much.  GENERAL INFORMATION  Age: Number o f c h i l d r e n : Number o f p r e g n a n c i e s : Year of marriage: Education: Occupat i o n : Are you w o r k i n g now: Do you p l a n t o r e t u r n t o work a f t e r you have the baby? Husband's o c c u p a t i o n : Husband's e d u c a t i o n : Your ethnic a f f i l i a t i o n : Husband's e t h n i c a f f i l i a t i o n : Approximate income (combined, i f you work, t o o ) : Under $5,000 $5,000 t o $10,000 $10,000 t o $15,000 $15,000 t o $20,000 Over $20,000  55 BIBLIOGRAPHY  The f o l l o w i n g l i s t  comprises a r e p r e s e n t a t i v e sample  of e t h n o g r a p h i e s and monographs c o n t a i n i n g  d a t a on customs  l a t i n g to pregnancy i n o t h e r c u l t u r e s ; t h i s l i s t exhaustive,  i s by no means  iforks marked with, an a s t e r i s k ( *) o f f e r  treatment of the  subject, while i n a l l other cases,  are b r i e f and o c c a s i o n a l l y  re-  special  descriptions  perfunctory.  A r d e n e r , E d w i n . D i v o r c e and F e r t i l i t y , An A f r i c a n London: Oxford U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , I962.  Study.  A s h l e y - M o n t a g u , M . F . Coming Into B e i n g Among the A u s t r a l i a n A b o r i g i n e s , A Study o f the P r o c r e a t i v e B e l i e f s o f t h e Native Tribes of A u s t r a l i a . London: George Routledge and Sons, L t d . , 1937. B e r n d t , Ronald M. Excess and R e s t r a i n t . o f Chicago P r e s s , 1962. D i c k Read, G r a n t l y . L t d . , 1955.  No Time f o r F e a r .  D u B o i s , C o r a . The People o f A l o r . Minnesota P r e s s , ltykk*  Chicago: London:  Minneapolis:  F o r b e s , Thomas. The M i d w i f e and the W i t c h . U n i v e r s i t y Press, 1966. Ford,  University William  Heineman  U n i v e r s i t y of  New Haven: Y a l e  C l e l l a n S t e a r n s . A Comparative Study o f Human R e p r o d u c t i o n . Y a l e U n i v e r s i t y P u b l i c a t i o n s i n A n t h r o p o l o g y , No. 32. New Haven: Y a l e U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 19^5.  Forde, D a r y l l . M a r r i a g e ' a n d the F a m i l y Among the Yako i n Southeastern N i g e r i a . London: Percy Lund Humphries and C o . , G e e r t z , H i l d r e d . The Javanese F a m i l y . Glencoe, 1961.  New Y o r k : Free P r e s s of  G r a n q v i s t , H i l m a . B i r t h and C h i l d h o o d Among the A r a b s . Soders.trom and C o . , 19^7. ~~  Helsingfo  56 BIBLIOGRAPHY Continued *  Hart,  Donn V . ; Rajadhon, Phya Anuman; and C o u g h l i n , R i c h a r d J . Southeast A s i a n B i r t h Customs. New Haven: Human R e l a t i o n s Area F i l e s P r e s s , 19bi?.  H i l g e r , S i s t e r M. I n e z . F i e l d Guide to the E t h n o l o g i c a l Study of C h i l d L i f e . New Haven: Human R e l a t i o n s A r e a F i l e s Press, lybO. Junod, H e n r i A . The L i f e o f a South A f r i c a n T r i b e , Volume I, Social Life. New Hyde P a r k , New Y o r k : U n i v e r s i t y Books, Inc., 1962. K a b e r r y , P h y l l i s M. A b o r i g i n a l Woman, Sacred and P r o f a n e . York: Humanities P r e s s , 1 9 3 0 . M a l i n o w s k i , B r o n l s l a w . The S e x u a l L i f e of Savages. Routledge and Kegan P a u l , L t d . , 1929. ^ . Sex, C u l t u r e and M y t h . and W o r l d , I n c . , 1 9 5 2 .  . York:  New L i v e s f o r O l d . C^TT 195h~. Raum, 0 . F .  Chaga C h i l d h o o d .  Brace  New Y o r k , W i l l i a m Morrow  The Mountain A r a p e s h , Volume I I . Natural History Press, 1970.  .  London:  New Y o r k : H a r c o u r t ,  Mead, M a r g a r e t . From the South S e a s . and C o . , 1939^  New  New Y o r k :  Garden C i t y , New W i l l i a m Morrow and  London, Oxford U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s ,  19^0.  Reyher, Rebecca H o u r w i c h . Z u l u Woman. U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 19I48.  New Y o r k : Columbia  Shirokogoroff, S.M. S o c i a l O r g a n i z a t i o n o f the N o r t h e r n The N e t h e r l a n d s : Oosterhout N . B . , 1 9 0 0 . S m i t h , M . G . K i n s h i p and Community i n C a r r i a c o u . Y a l e U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1962. S t a y t , Hugh A .  1931.  The Bavenda.  '  London:  Tungus.  New Haven,  Oxford U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s .  

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