The externality of the inside: body images of pregnancy

Virginia Schmied, Deborah Lupton

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    55 Citations (Scopus)


    The externality of the inside: body images of pregnancy This paper draws on literature, empirical data and a range of theoretical perspectives on the maternal body to examine understandings of the relationship between a pregnant woman and her foetus, with a particular focus on the body images used by women to represent this relationship. Psychoanalytic and nursing accounts of the relationship between mother and foetus have often described a symbiotic 'oneness' or unity during pregnancy. Such accounts, however, stress the temporary nature of this unity and identify a series of 'stages' of separation or 'polarisation' between mother and foetus during pregnancy. In contrast, many of the 25 women who participated in our interview study of new motherhood described a confusion of the boundary between self and foetus. For many women the experience of pregnancy and the relationship with the unborn baby was ambiguous and uncertain. Importantly, none of these women described her relationship with the foetus as a series of developmental stages, but rather saw it as fluctuating throughout pregnancy. These findings are more consistent with the work of feminist theorists who describe pregnancy as a dynamic and fluid merging of the inside and the outside of the body/self.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)32-40
    Number of pages9
    JournalNursing Inquiry
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2001


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