This article analyzes my personal experience of having a maternal body through autoethnographic means. Being pregnant is a time of celebration, but moms experience private and public changes in their bodies. These public changes continue during the postpartum period. Ground in Foucault’s panopticon, this paper explores how the maternal body undergoes self-surveillance as well as surveillance by the proverbial others. I provide vignettes and personal experiences to highlight the panopticon: moms self-surveil but moms are also being surveilled when in the public eye. I make the argument of how the maternal body is a site of surveillance often used to judge the goodness of the mother or the usefulness of the maternal body. I conclude with a suggestion of how the panopticon can be used to examine parenting practices.


Autoethnography, Critical, Maternal Body, Power, Self-Surveillance

Author Bio(s)

Sarah Symonds LeBlanc (University of Missouri, 2012) is an Assistant Professor of Communication at Purdue University Fort Wayne. Her research centers on maternal communication. Please direct correspondence to leblancs@pfw.edu.


I would like to thank Tony Adams and Michelle Drouin for feedback on earlier copies of the manuscript.

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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.





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