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Who can call herself a mother?

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Anthony McCarthy [1], Professor, National Maternity Hospital, Holles Str, Dublin 2. Ireland, UCD School of Medicine, St Vincents University Hospital, Elm Park, Dublin 4
     

                                                      

Abstract

Who can call herself a mother? Although this may seem to be a simple question and one to which there is a simple answer, in fact it is very often a complex question and one without a self-evident answer.

To say “I am a mother” is, for every woman, a profound life stage. Before she takes on this name, the word will always be heard with particular reference to the internalised image of her own mother and her sense of what a mother is. This will be based on her own experience of being mothered and also on the cultural meanings attached to motherhood and the position of women and motherhood generally in her society. But the image will always be of a duality, a mother and a baby. Therefore, in pregnancy, before there is a baby in the “outside world”, for her to begin to identify with this image of mother and to “know” she is becoming a mother, will be a deeply subjective process involving the imagination.  It is this imagining of when and how she can call herself a mother that this paper will address.

 

 

 

Address for correspondence:
Professor Anthony McCarthy
National Maternity Hospital, Holles Str, Dublin 2. Ireland, UCD School of Medicine, St Vincents University Hospital, Elm Park, Dublin 4
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