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Accepting "expecting"? : on being pregnant and studying

By Crystal Powell

Abstract

Includes bibliographical references (p. 70-72).Pregnancy can be an exciting experience for - but not limited to - women who have planned their pregnancies and have contemplated their futures as mothers. Similarly. education and the achievements of matriculation, bachelors', masters' and PhD degrees toward the pursuit of a lasting career can be an equally exciting experience for ambitious students who value education in its own right and for their potential futures. For female students who would prefer to finish their education and establish their careers before parenthood, inadvertently becoming pregnant during their studies may serve as a turning point requiring drastic re-evaluation for their lives as students and mothers. The female body and the physical changes that take place during pregnancy often make the pregnant body easily identifiable and ultimately a public object, subjecting pregnant women to attention and interpretation from everyone around them, particularly in places like university campuses where pregnancy is not commonplace. Consequently, pregnancy as an obvious implication of sexual activity can subject pregnant women to gossip around the assumed carelessness of their sexual behaviours. On university campuses, where such gossip around a pregnancy is certain to develop, some women seek refuge by hiding their pregnancies. This dissertation explores the experiences of currently pregnant students and student mothers on two university campuses. I consider their experiences of pregnancy as students, distinguishing between those who were single, dating, or married at the time of their pregnancies. I also consider those who planned their pregnancies vs. those who did not and those who had necessary support systems vs. those who did not, towards an understanding of how they managed the simultaneity of pregnancy and studying. This thesis explores the experiences of these women to understand the manner and extent to which their lives and aspirations as students have been impacted in light of their pregnancies and/or children. While highlighting the difference in values of education for the informants, it shows that becoming pregnant has profound implications on student's lives and that moral, emotional and material support are the critical factors that determine whether the pregnant student or student mother will complete her education

Topics: Social Anthropology
Publisher: Social Anthropology
Year: 2009
OAI identifier: oai:open.uct.ac.za:11427/8994

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