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Title: Experiences of Pregnancy, Childbirth and Early Parenting
Subtitle: Practical Theological Research into the 'Lived Religion' of Flemish Heterosexual Expectant Couples
Author(s): COCKX, Judith
Journal: Marriage, Families & Spirituality
Volume: 17    Issue: 1   Date: 2011   
Pages: 37-47
DOI: 10.2143/INT.17.1.2126630

Abstract :
Pregnancy and childbirth are intense parental experiences that can renew or deepen existential and spiritual human meaningmaking. However, with the increasing medicalization of pregnancy and childbirth, there is a danger that the experiential aspects may be minimized and that existential and spiritual meanings might be lost. Using qualitative empirical research, the author explores how expectant Flemish parents subjectively experience expecting a child and becoming a parent as events that raise, develop, and sometimes question frames of reference for meaning-making. The author uses the interplay between the categories 'heteronomy', 'autonomy', 'relationality', and 'ambiguity' as an analytical tool for interpreting the ideas that interviewed parents express about expecting a child and becoming a parent. These are then considered in light of philosophical and theological theories, concepts and frameworks about parenting and giving birth. The article further examines the extent to which the experiences of the interviewed parents challenge or enrich existing philosophical and theological frames of reference for human meaning-making. This dialog between the lived experiences of pregnancy and giving birth and the theological and philosophical theories offers inspiration for renewed (pastoral) practices of support for parents during pregnancy, childbirth and early parenting.

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