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Articles

Vol 9 No 2 (2022): April issue

Becoming a Mother During COVID-19: Adjustments in Performing Motherhood

DOI
https://doi.org/10.17157/mat.9.2.5310
Submitted
January 8, 2021
Published
April 28, 2022

Abstract

Based on online semi-structured interviews with middle-class women who were pregnant or had recently given birth in Western Europe (France, Spain, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland), this study analyses how motherhood has been experienced and performed during the COVID-19 pandemic. The article reflects on the specific new risk assessments and responsibilities that emerged during the pandemic by showing women’s coping strategies concerning lockdowns and other public health measures. Using a COVID-19 lens also allows a broader analysis of middle-class families’ concerns about performing ‘good motherhood’. By highlighting the discrepancies between women’s expected and actual experiences, the prescriptive aspects of pregnancy, delivery, and the postpartum phase are revealed and analysed, prompting us to consider parenting as a form of doing and proving. By underlining the importance attached to the expectant mother’s wellbeing, the partner’s involvement, the support of relatives, and the future socialisation of the baby, we argue that women face a myriad of imperatives to ensure a meaningful experience of motherhood.