chapter  13
Anticipating parenthood: in the West and in other cultures
ByJoan Raphael-Leff
Pages 9

Most societies register a change in status when a person becomes a parent. In many cultures a marriage is only formalized during pregnancy or after a live birth. In many cultures, dietary restrictions are enforced during pregnancy. However, the degree of responsibility ascribed varies in different societies from those in which parental negligence during pregnancy will be blamed for failed births or infant malformation to others operating varying degrees of acceptance of abnormality. The degree of emotional commitment to the baby is determined in any society by many factors such as prospects of viability and infant mortality rates, attitude to gender and sex preferences, birth order and patterns of inheritance, social class and circumstances of conception. Female work roles during pregnancy vary widely across cultures, such that Gujarati woman in India would be expected to do only light household duties throughout pregnancy; she is meant to enjoy pleasant thoughts as her ideas or actions are believed to affect the fetus.