'To make it through each day still pregnant': Pregnancy bed rest and the disciplining of the maternal body

M. Cristina Alcalde

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


This article provides a qualitative, non-medical analysis of pregnancy bed rest to contribute to feminist scholarship on women's experiences of embodiment and reproduction. Drawing on surveys and interviews, I examine pregnancy bed rest from the perspective of those who have experienced it. I argue that pregnancy bed rest significantly disrupts women's sense of control over their bodies, and that this disruption is partly manifested through feelings of failure and self-blame. Women's feelings of failure are heightened within a cultural context that emphasizes the importance of individual control over reproductive processes and ignores marginalized experiences of pregnancy. I then examine how women strategize ways to momentarily regain some control over their self and lives and thereby reduce feelings of failure. Analysis of women's pregnancy bed rest experiences furthers our understanding of an experience that drastically alters women's sense of control and self-discipline as well as their relationship to their bodies. It also sheds light on pregnancy as an experience that is informed at least as much by the cultural context as it is by the body.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-221
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Gender Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author would like to express her gratitude to the women who participated in this research, as well as to the University of Kentucky College of Arts and Sciences for a Special Summer Research Fellowship to support this project.


  • Bed rest
  • Confinement
  • Discipline
  • Marginalization
  • Medicalization
  • Pregnancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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