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From Here to MaternityBecoming a Mother$
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Ann Oakley

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781447349341

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447349341.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM POLICY PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.policypress.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Policy Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in PPSO for personal use.date: 22 September 2021

Journey into the Unknown

Journey into the Unknown

(p.51) 4 Journey into the Unknown
From Here to Maternity

Ann Oakley

Policy Press

This chapter shows how having a first baby is a journey into the unknown in more senses than one. Apart from the birth, which is the central drama in the transition to motherhood, three changes have to be accomplished more or less simultaneously: giving up paid work, taking up a totally new occupation — that of mother, and becoming a housewife. For a minority of women the break in paid-work career will be short, and the necessary adjustment to domesticity only temporary. But most women stay at home for several years. Unlike other changes of occupation, this transformation into mother and housewife entails more than small changes in routine. But while domesticity may be a theme running through women's lives from birth to death, suddenly having no other occupation to call one's own may seriously injure a woman's self-concept — ideas she has cherished about herself as a person. Such occupational hazards of being female may of course have no impact on some women; but in the mind, in anticipation, they hover as grey possibilities on the horizon.

Keywords:   first baby, motherhood, paid work, domesticity, self-concept

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