Year of Graduation


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Open Access Thesis

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First Advisor

Nancy Riley


This paper identifies “embodied uncertainties”—possibilities of aging and infertility lodged within the body—as informing women’s conceptualizations of their reproductive bodies and their decisions about and approaches to getting pregnant. Using data from semi-structured interviews with a small sample of highly educated, professional, white women who had given birth within 18 months prior, this paper argues that (bio)medicalized risk discourses and neoliberal logics of responsible choice-making lodge uncertainty and the possibility of failure within women’s reproductive bodies. As they attempt to reconcile childbearing with professional and financial constraints, women may identify their bodies as laden with embodied uncertainties and may subsequently adopt strategies for becoming pregnant that seek to mitigate those embodied uncertainties, such as by trying to conceive before feeling completely ready for a pregnancy. Ultimately, (bio)medicalization and neoliberalism have transformed reproductive aging and infertility into individualized concerns and foreclosed recognition of the institutional failures that create conflicts of aging, careers, and childbearing in women’s lives.