A recent study set out to explore what popular magazines are telling young women about pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and parenting. The study was done by the Australian College of Midwives and was published in September 2017. It found that three quarters of the magazines reviewed contained some reference to at least one of these topics. Even though many of the references to pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, and parenting were presented in a neutral or matter of fact kind of way, there were a number of meddlesome or even destructive references made to these topics. They may help formulate some negative ideas amongst young women, the researchers stressed. They also pointed to the conflicting social and sexual values of childbirth and child-rearing for Western women. The eroticism of breasts and idolization of slim and immature bodies is incompatible with motherhood, breastfeeding and fertility.
The specifically negative areas included weight gain in pregnancy, lack of control in your life during pregnancy, the agony of childbirth, detrimental changes in marital relationships during pregnancy and after birth, inability to cope with a baby, and the negative consequences for one’s career. The researchers stressed that it’s important that those involved with antenatal education are aware of how powerful magazines are in the education of young women, and the paradoxical nature of the material being presented about pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding and parenting. They suggest that it may also be appropriate to consider supporting biology and human relations education programs in schools with the aim of countering some of the ideas presented to them from sources such as popular magazines.