The University of Kent’s School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research and the Kent Centre for Law, Gender and Sexuality organised this international conference, bringing together academics from a range disciplines, to discuss the way in which pregnancy is being re-conceptualised at a time when parenthood has become the object of increasing attention and concern. The event was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and British Pregnancy Advisory Service (bpas).
Speakers addressed how anxieties about parenting are ‘extending backwards’ into pregnancy and even pre-conception, with potential parents increasingly being regarded as in need of ‘parent training’. Papers considered the validity and impact of the claim that a healthy baby requires a stress-free pregnancy; the impact of contemporary parenting culture on reproductive decision-making, in particular, abortion; the increasing pressure for men to become actively involved not just in baby-care but in guiding and supporting their partner’s antenatal choices; and the way in which the new norm of ‘intensive parenthood’ is shaping the regulation of reproductive technology. The conference included a comparative discussion of US and UK controversies surrounding the consumption of drugs and alcohol by pregnant women.
Summary of discussion (PDF)