the pregnancy project
For participants

This project involves two different kinds of interviewing - repeated, in-depth, semi-structured interviews with a core group of first-time mothers/couples, and single, structured interviews with groups of first-time and nth-time mothers.
The first kind of interviewing - repeated, in-depth, and semi-structured - has allowed me to become familiar with the expectations and experiences of first-time mothers/couples, not to mention with the stories of the individuals themselves.  We get together once every 3 to 4 weeks for at least 1 hour to talk.  Each mother/couple sets the agenda for the interview.  In addition, I ask certain questions of all mothers/couples in order to be able to compare their responses.  I look forward to these interviews, which certainly feel to me more like conversations with good friends than data collection for a study.  Real sharing occurs in our discussions.
The second kind of interviewing - single, structured interviews with groups of first- and nth-time mothers - will build upon what I am learning from the repeated, in-depth interviewing.  For this kind of interviewing, we will meet once for 1 hour.  I will ask the same set of questions of all the mothers who agree to participate.  The questions will be focused on the topic of how you have been preparing for the birth of your child, including what kinds of activities in which you have engaged during pregnancy.  Doing so will allow me to compare what first-time mothers have to say against what nth-time mothers have to say.  If you are interested in participating in a single, structured interview, click on this link for more information about Interviews. 


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Observing events is a method commonly used in anthropological research.  Often, observation is used to complement interviewing because it is not always possible for people to recall and describe details that they take for granted.  In fact, interviews also are an important part of my project. 

Observation is an important part of my project because it allows me, as a researcher, to become familiar with what happens during these events, which represent important moments in the cultural and social experience of pregnancy in the United States today. 

Observing prenatal care appointments, exercise classes, and childbirth preparation workshops provides important background information for my project.
I am observing prenatal care appointments with doctors, nurses, and midwives, exercise classes involving activities from aquatics to yoga, and childbirth preparation workshops based on different philosophies.  In so doing, I hope to observe the range of ideas and practices surrounding pregnancy.  I am interested in observing both the similarities and the differences.

For example, what happens during prenatal care appointments?  What kinds of questions do first-time mothers ask?  How do they compare with the questions that second and third-time mothers ask?  What kinds of information do doctors, nurses, and midwives offer?  These are the kinds of questions for which I seek answers through observation.
During observations, I am taking general notes about the kinds of activities I am observing.  No names or identifying details appear in my notes.  Nor will they appear in my dissertation. 
Many thanks to the expectant parents who have contributed to my project by sharing their experiences with me.

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Doctoral Candidate
Department of Anthropology and
Center for the Ethnography of Everyday Life
University of Michigan