Site icon KnowledgeStitch

Becoming a Mother During COVID-19

A photograph of a baby's feet, being held by a single hand. The baby's feet and ankles are exposed but the rest of the baby is covered by a soft gray/blue blanket. There is light shining on the feet, but the rest of the photo is dark. It feels quiet like a quiet moment.

Photo by Omar Lopez on Unsplash

Adjustments in Performing Motherhood

Peer-reviewed research by: Dr Clémence Jullien and Dr Roger Jeffery

Motherhood comes with a constellation of social pressures that can impact wellbeing at the best of times, but during COVID-19? That’s a different game. What happens when women experience motherhood in ways that differ from what they had imagined? This research looks at the social aspects of entering motherhood, using COVID-19 as a lens from which to see things that might otherwise go unnoticed. Focusing on the experiences of middle-class expectant mothers from within Western Europe – it offers a snapshot of lived experiences as COVID-19 began to unfold in 2020, impacting what it means to ‘perform motherhood.’ Check out the abstract for more details, and when you’re ready, head over to the full article and read it for free, as it is licensed for open-access under the Creative Commons. Here is the 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.

Click here to read the full open-access article, published in 2022 in the journal Medicine, Anthropology, Theory.

Full Reference //

Clémence Jullien and Roger Jeffery (2022) ‘Becoming a mother in COVID-19: Adjustments in performing motherhood.’ Medicine, Anthropology, Theory, 9 (2): 1–27.

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0).

Knowledge Stitch amplifies open-access peer-reviewed academic research. If you have research you would like readers to check out, click here to suggest your work.

Exit mobile version