Becoming a mother in COVID-19: Adjustments in performing motherhood

Clémence Jullien, Roger Jeffery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Based on online semi-structured interviews with middle-class and expectant mothers living in Western Europe (France, Spain, United Kingdom, and Switzerland), this study analyses how motherhood has been experienced and performed during the COVID-19 pandemic. The article reflects on the articulation between particular new risk assessments and responsibility in a pandemic by showing women's coping strategies concerning measures of lockdowns or public health regulations. Using a Covid-19 lens also allows a broader analysis of middle-class families’ concerns about performing good motherhood. Through the discrepancies between women’s expected and actual experiences, the prescriptive aspects of pregnancy, delivery and the post-partum phase are highlighted and analysed, prompting us to consider parenting as a form of doing and proving. By underlying the importance attached to the expectant mother's well-being, the partner's involvement, the support of the relatives and the future socialisation of the baby, we argue that women face a myriad of imperatives to ensure a meaningful experience of motherhood.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMedicine Anthropology Theory
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 28 Apr 2022

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • COVID-19
  • responsibility
  • motherhood
  • performance
  • family ties


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