Putting pregnancy in its place: Conceiving pregnancy as carework in the workplace

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This paper contributes to understandings of the relationship between pregnancy, health and place by exploring how health advice on pregnancy may be implemented, in practice, ‘at work’. The paper first defines the following of health advice on pregnancy as a form of informal ‘carework’ which obliges pregnant women to implement caring practices comprising emotional and embodied labour. It then observes how health advice on pregnancy carework pays little regard to the impact of place. Drawing upon in-depth interviews with 15 professionally employed mothers/expectant mothers; the paper suggests that the performance of pregnancy carework may be incompatible with workplace settings. The tensions are highlighted between medical representations of pregnancy as a ‘condition’ and the treatment of pregnancy, within professional workplaces, as ‘not an illness’. The question is raised as to whether insufficient reference to place within health advice reflects underlying gendered expectations that pregnancy carework ought to be performed within the home.

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