The Shifting Body

Elly Teman

in Birthing a Mother

Published by University of California Press

Published in print March 2010 | ISBN: 9780520259638
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520945852 | DOI:
The Shifting Body

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The intended mother's experience of surrogacy cannot be separated from her relationship with the surrogate. Surrogates play a central role in fostering the intended mother's goals, whether by allowing her to assume control of the medical aspects of the pregnancy or by actively trying to bond her to the baby. The story behind the surrogacy agreement, then, becomes less about the surrogate giving birth to a baby and more about how surrogates, like midwives, actively help other women give birth to themselves as mothers. This chapter addresses the surrogate-intended mother relationship from the perspective of the body. It looks at the role that pregnant embodiment plays in the women's interactions with one another and at the way that intended mothers make efforts to encompass, symbolically attach, and experience the pregnancy through their bodies. This process is referred to as “the shifting body” because it involves the shifting between the two women of social labels, identity-building processes, and embodied expressions of pregnancy; the very aspects of pregnancy that the surrogate has distanced, detached, and disembodied are channeled into the intended mother's construction of a “pregnant identity.” The chapter also addresses the emotional dimensions of the women's convergence throughout the surrogacy process.

Keywords: surrogacy; surrogates; intended mothers; body; pregnancy; pregnant identity

Chapter.  18956 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medical Anthropology

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