This article investigates the ways in which exercise and movement became an increasingly important aspect of the antenatal experience in mid-twentieth-century Britain. This theme is explored through the experiences of women who attended fitness classes in the mid twentieth century, and the impact which these all-female spaces had upon their physicality and embodiment during pregnancy. It uses oral history testimony to argue that these exercise classes had a hand in the gradual spread of the idea that gentle exercise during pregnancy was safe for mother and baby, and this played a part in encouraging pregnant women to reject the discourses of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries which suggested that the middle-class pregnancy should be primarily sedentary. These all-female fitness classes played a role in developing ideas about the pregnant female body; educating women about their physiology; and encouraging women to safely maintain sporting identities throughout every stage of their lives.
|Journal||Women's History Review|
|Publication status||Published - 3 Sept 2015|