Grad. Students Feature Stories

Maternal Practices, Body and Appearance: Navigating Contradictory Social Expectations during Pregnancy and Early Mothering



My research explores the embodied lived experiences of mothers as they navigate often contradictory local and global social expectations of maternity.  Local Ghanaian cultural norms surrounding pregnancy and early motherhood often tend to be in contradiction with certain globalized /Western norms. Using purposive and snow ball sampling techniques, 42 women with children less than nineteen months from diverse educational backgrounds were interviewed for the study. The study was conducted in Accra Ghana, a former British colony with a long history of interaction and cultural exchange with the West. Interview questions were organized around the following broad questions: 1. How do women experience western/global biomedical discourses and local Ghanaian cultural norms and practices associated with pregnancy, birth and early childcare and how they navigate contrasting expectations? 2. How do women negotiate local Ghanaian traditional norms about appearance (dressing and general look) that emphasize the desexualization of the maternal body and western/global norms that emphasize the sexualization of the maternal body? 3. How do women experience bodily changes and negotiate contrasting Ghanaian/African and Western body ideals, and also norms about body work and mother work?


This is a manuscript based thesis and I have been closely working with my supervisor in the preparation of articles for publication. We have submitted a journal article for review and are working on another article. I hope by the end of my PhD program, I can get two articles published and complete two more manuscript chapters. 



Ms. ODOI Elizabeth Yemorkor

Current PhD student of the Department of Sociology. Her research focuses on gender studies and sociology of the family.