Maternal Impressions

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. This month, PoP network member Sarah Fox shares her insights on the debates (both historical and contemporary) on maternal impressions.

On the 14th September 2020, the Daily Mail reported upon a pilot study being undertaken at the University of Heidelberg.  The headline read: ‘Anxious mums can pass on their stress to their babies – leaving them with an ‘emotional imprint’ that can scar them for life, scientists warn.’  The article reported that children of mothers suffering from anxiety or depression experienced raised heart rates during a stress test called ‘still face test’. “We found that if a mother was anxious or depressed, their baby had a more sensitive physiological response to stress during the test than did the babies of healthy mothers” researcher Fabio Blanco-Dormond is reported to have said.  An article on sciencetimes.com raised the stakes still further reporting that the infant’s significantly (8 bpm) increased heart rate “could develop into emotional stress in later years.” The findings are reported as being at the cutting edge of scientific research. “To our knowledge this is one of the first times this physical effect has been seen in three-months old infants” according to the Daily Mail’s report.  Yet the idea that a mother’s thoughts and feelings can impact both physically and emotionally on their unborn child has very long and complex roots.

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Stage Mothers: Women Work and the Theater, 1660-1830

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 Chelsea Phillips reviews a new edited collection on women in the theatre.

Stage Mothers: Women Work and the Theater, 1660-1830. Edited by Laura Engel and Elaine M. McGirr. Bucknell University Press (Rowman and Littlefield), 2014.

This collection offers a broad range of approaches to the intersections of maternity and theatre that will appeal to scholars of the eighteenth century and beyond. For our members, the detailed unpicking of familiar narratives (literary or in the form of conduct and advice manuals), from the realities of working mothers, will be of greatest interest.

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Paying the Maternity Hospital before the NHS

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. This week’s post is contributed by George Campbell Gosling and examines the maternity provision before the NHS.

‘Delete the word “poor”.’[1] With this instruction in 1931, Liverpool Maternity Hospital’s Objects of the Institution were rewritten and its mission recast as providing hospital births to women of all classes. In doing so an answer was formally given to a question asked by the city’s Liberal Review nearly half a century before, back in 1882.

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