Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research

Making sense of the social world

Conference asks who should be a mother?

18 May 2017

Today’s conference ‘Policing pregnancy: who should be a mother?‘ will explore accepted ideas about pregnancy and the associated concepts of motherhood, risk and responsibility.

One aspect under scrutiny is that of alcohol consumption during pregnancy. The conference which is a collaboration between the British Pregnancy Service; Birthrights; the University of Kent’s Centre for Parenting Culture Studies; and Canterbury Christ Church University’s Engaging Sociology, will examine the revised guidelines that came into force in January 2016. The advice, endorsed by the four UK nations' chief medical officers, deleted a longstanding reference to pregnant women potentially having one or two units of alcohol once or twice a week while expecting and instead said that they should not drink at all. 

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service, maternal rights campaign group Birthrights and academics specialising in parenting say official advice on drinking in pregnancy is too prescriptive and is not based on reliable evidence.

Ellie Lee, director of Kent's Centre for Parenting Culture Studies, also thinks the advice means pregnant women will experience social exclusion:

"As proving 'complete safety' [of drinking in pregnancy] is entirely impossible, where does this leave pregnant women? The scrutiny and oversight of their behaviour the official approach invites is not benign. It creates anxiety and impairs ordinary social interaction. And the exclusion of women from an ordinary activity on the basis of 'precaution' can more properly be called sexist than benign."

This issue, amongst others, will be explored during the conference, more information and research can be found on the Centre for Parenting Culture Studies’ blog; you can also sign up to the CPCS newsletter here.



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Last Updated: 14/12/2017