This thought-provoking study makes an important contribution to the exploration of the relationship between medicine and culture. Drawing on a wide range of sources, including obstetric texts, advice books for women, medico-social texts, literature and popular culture, Clare Hanson explores the changing ways in which pregnancy has been interpreted and understood over the last 250 years. A number of influential but neglected concepts which have inflected the experience of pregnancy are brought to light and examined critically: these include maternal impressions, the 'insanity of pregnancy', eugenic motherhood and ectogenesis. The book thus uncovers a history of ideas which have shaped both the subjective experience and the medical management of pregnancy. In particular, it reveals the changing understanding of the relationship between mother and foetus, which was construed in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in terms of harmony (the 'one flesh' model of pregnancy) but which has increasingly come to be viewed in terms of physiological (and ethical) conflict and competition.A comprehensive account of pregnancy and the cultural discourses surrounding it over the last three centuries, Hanson's book is a useful reference for students and scholars in women's studies, gender and cultural studies and the cultural history of science, as well as the general reader.

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