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Accounts of Mothers’ Experiences of ‘Advice’ During Pregnancy and Early Motherhood

Hull, Rochelle (2013) Accounts of Mothers’ Experiences of ‘Advice’ During Pregnancy and Early Motherhood. Manchester Metropolitan University. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

The aim of the study was to understand and interpret women’s experiences of advice, from the standpoint of differing personal contexts, during pregnancy and throughout the transition into motherhood. The welfare state encourages mothers to utilise the institutions of expert knowledge to gain education regarding ‘appropriate’ maternal behaviour. However, the obligation for women to practice health professionals’ advice can be viewed as a form of social control (Ussher, 2006). An extensive literature review illustrated that women value informal advice, as it provides a mutual understanding of maternal experience. Using a semi-structured interview, the accounts of six women’s experiences regarding maternal advice were explored. Five themes were encoded through thematic analysis; expert advice, informal advice, feeding options, changes and neoliberal values, providing reliability for the findings of previous studies. The research illustrated the conflicting ideologies between autonomous motherhood and the objectification of women’s bodies through medical interventions. However, the different levels of care within the medical system impacted maternal experiences of advice, as the participants valued the female-dominated position of the midwife. This recognises a need to expand women-centered models of midwifery to build bridges between medical environments and the personal, instinctual and psychological aspects of motherhood, symbolising women’s agency.

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