For the 2008-2009 year, I was awarded a grant to travel to the Rockefeller Archive Center (RAC) to complete research for my dissertation on the cultural history of pregnancy in twentieth-century America. In the course of the twentieth century, pregnancy has undergone a significant change as a medical condition and a social construction. From the "shadow of maternity" to the "maternal glow," obstetricians, retailers and advertisers have shaped women and men's perceptions regarding maternity. During the twentieth century, the nine-month period changed from a time filled with worries regarding complications, pain, debility, and even death, to an event occupied with prenatal visits and consumer activity idealizing babyhood and motherhood. The experience and expectations of pregnancy clearly changed, but what influenced this shift? To answer that question, my dissertation examines how the links between medicine and consumer culture shaped the conception of the modern pregnancy across the United States over the course of the twentieth century.
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