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The Disembodied Mother

The Perceptions of Pregnancy blog, like the Researchers’ Network, aims to reach beyond boundaries and borders, and to facilitate an international and interdisciplinary conversation on pregnancy and its associated bodily and emotional experiences from the earliest times to the present day. In this week’s post Rachel Botha considers the visual representations of mothers in debates surrounding abortion.

The Disembodied Mother: the representation of motherhood in the visual
culture surrounding the abortion debate.

According to the Eighth Amendment in the Constitution of Ireland the right to life of the unborn is equal to the right to life of the mother. This legislation is ultimately transferred to the visual culture that surrounds the brewing debate of abortion in Ireland. In this piece I shall be honing in on the impact of visualising the foetus, and how it essentially disembodies the pregnant woman to exaggerate ‘life’- the life of the foetus as a separate entity to the mother.

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What about fathers?

The Perceptions of Pregnancy blog, like the Researchers’ Network, aims to reach beyond boundaries and borders, and to facilitate an international and interdisciplinary conversation on pregnancy and its associated bodily and emotional experiences from the medieval to the modern. Today’s post from Leanne Calvert explores men’s roles in childbirth in the nineteenth century.

What about fathers? Men and childbirth: some evidence from nineteenth-century Ulster.

Every week, millions of us tune into Channel 4’s One Born Every Minute –the fly-on-the-wall documentary series that follows midwives and expectant mothers in maternity wards across Britain and Ireland. The unlikely star of the show, however, can be found standing next to the hospital bed –the expectant father. In any given episode, fathers can be seen nervously fidgeting and pacing, holding their partners’ hands, and encouraging them as they puff through each contraction. Many fathers are present at the time of delivery and some even cut the umbilical cord. Such scenes have become commonplace in contemporary society. Today, fathers are a visible presence in the delivery room and, with the increasing availability of paternity leave, are much more involved in early childcare than previous generations of men. But, just how modern is this conception of fatherhood? What role did fathers in past centuries play in childbirth?

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Book Competition Winner!

competition-oneCongratulations to Mark Benson on winning the Perceptions of Pregnancy book giveaway. Mark’s choice of blog post was Laura Neff’s post on Missing Mothers. Maternal deaths in the United States.

Mark is a final year PhD researcher at Queen’s University, Belfast examining a history of ‘the provision of abortion in Northern Ireland, 1900-1968’. Supervised by historian Professor Mary O’Dowd and sociologist Dr Lisa Smyth, the project uses medical archives and court records to explore the changing landscape of legal, illegal and ‘discreetly’ legal procedures sought out by women and their partners.

In addition to the above,  he works acompetition-twos a tutor with QUB’s social inclusion department, the widening participation unit. The WPU focuses on A level students from low income backgrounds who are categorised as ‘those most able but least likely’ to attend university. His other projects include co-developing a new interdisciplinary module highlighting the histories of groups and topics traditionally marginalised by Irish society and often overlooked by academia.

He will be letting us know what he thinks of the collection after he submits his thesis.

Congratulations again from the Perceptions of Pregnancy team