'It was a horrible shock': The experience of motherhood and women's family size preferences

Donna Read, Judith Crockett, Robyn Mason

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Women's capacity to have children has often been manipulated to suit a particular state agenda,neglecting women's interests. We report on qualitative research from regional Australia inwhich 26 women with children participated. The findings support the view that motherhoodwithin a nuclear family context may threaten the well-being of women who lack external support.The women's narratives of their experience of motherhood were frequently of 'shock'and struggle. They tended to prioritise their children's well-being (in keeping with the 'goodmother' ideal) but some identified their own needs as important and recognised their needfor support. The struggle participants experienced and the negotiations they underwent topreserve their own well-being were suggestive of the oppressive power of motherhood butalso of their agency. We conclude that meeting the challenges of providing adequate informationand support for women in regard to childbearing are pivotal in overcoming oppression associatedwith motherhood.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12-21
Number of pages10
JournalWomen's Studies International Forum
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012


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