Pub. date: 2009 | Online Pub. Date: January 26, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412964517 | Print ISBN: 9781412909167 | Online ISBN: 9781412964517| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Pregnancy and birthing are both natural physiological processes and socially and culturally mediated experiences. Cross-cultural differences in the expectations and practices of pregnant women highlight the social construction of reproduction. Race, class, region, and other differences among women shape our access and interest in medical and technological interventions, our employment rates, and our health and well-being during pregnancy. Structural and cultural forces also shape reproductive rates, including age at first pregnancy, number of pregnancies, chances for live births, and termination of pregnancies. Furthermore, while women experience pregnancy and childbirth as physical changes to their bodies, the meanings derived from the experience are influenced by cultural discourses, expectations, and access or lack of access to important resources. Most American women experience pregnancy at some point in their lives. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that approximately 10 percent of women between the ages of 15 and 44 experience pregnancy each ...