Early Motherhood in Digital Societies: Ideals, anxieties and ties of the perinatal, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Early Motherhood in Digital Societies

Ideals, anxieties and ties of the perinatal, 1st Edition

By Ranjana Das


216 pages

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Hardback: 9781138052574
pub: 2019-12-20
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Early Motherhood in Digital Societiesoffers a nuanced understanding of what the digital turn has meant for new mothers in an intense and critical period before and after they have a baby, often called the ‘perinatal’ period.

The book looks at an array of digital communication and content by drawing on an extensive research project involving in-depth qualitative data from interviews with new mothers in the United Kingdom and online case studies. These stories are analysed to investigate the complexity of emotions around birth, the diversity of birth experiences, and the myriad ways in which television, the press and social media impede and empower women giving birth.  The book asks: what does the use of technology mean in the perinatal context and what implications might it have for maternal wellbeing? It argues for a balanced and context-sensitive approach to the digital for maternal wellbeing in the critical perinatal period.

By doing this, the book fills a gap in media studies, addressing itself to gaps within audience analysis, health communication and parenting. It will be essential reading for research, and teaching modules in media studies, cultural studies, sociology, health communication, and sociology of medicine and health.

Table of Contents



Chapter 1: Mediated mists of the early days

Early Motherhood: Why the Perinatal?

A mediated framework


A synopsis of this book


Chapter 2: The Perinatal Ideal

The intensive perinatal

Mediating early motherhood

The Perinatal Ideal


Chapter 3: The Good Birth

The YouTube case

The visual logics of mediated hypno-births

‘Good birthing’



Chapter 4: The two sides of support rhetoric

The cases

A cathartic, rationalising and empowering space

Discursive and perceived silencing of ‘horror stories’

Rhetoric around labour

Individualisation of birthing responsibilities



Chapter 5: Short-lived ties, lasting implications

The normative and regulatory texture of information

Temporally inexpensive, affectively expensive

Newly forged online ties and the shaping of pre-existing offline ties



Chapter 6: Perinatal Anxiety and its Mediated Social Shaping

The cultural coding of maternal anxiety

The red herring of infant wellbeing

Nuanced complexities of support systems and support rhetoric



Chapter 7: Perinatality and the digital: Cautious-optimism

Uneven contexts of access and use

The case for optimism

The case for caution

Cautious-optimism: Representations, connections, intrusions

A space for the perinatal in digital wellbeing

Locating the perinatal in digital wellbeing

A (careful) case for the digital



About the Author

Ranjana Das is Reader in Media and Communication, in the Department of Sociology, at the University of Surrey, UK. Her recent work has focused on parenting, parenthood and technology, with a particular focus on health and wellbeing. More broadly, she is interested in empirical and conceptual explorations of people's everyday engagement with emerging communication technologies and has researched media audiences and users in numerous projects. Her work has been funded by the Wellcome Trust, the British Academy and the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

About the Series

Global Gender

The Global Gender series provides original research from across the humanities and social sciences, casting light on a range of topics from international authors examining the diverse and shifting issues of gender and sexuality on the world stage. Utilising a range of approaches and interventions, these texts are a lively and accessible resource for both scholars and upper level students from a wide array of fields including Gender and Women’s Studies, Sociology, Politics, Communication, Cultural Studies and Literature.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Gender Studies