Still somewhat a subject of mystery, pregnancy holds a particularly important place within cultures and women's lives, as evidenced by the multitude of religious, scientific, cultural, and social beliefs about its definition, its role in society, and women's bodies. Responses are mixed as to whether pregnancy signals a woman's move into the role of “mother,” since not all women who are pregnant carry the fetus to term or keep the child after birth. Some women who are mothers are never pregnant, and some women consider themselves mothers even if they do not have children. Regardless of context, pregnancy remains central to women's lives—even if they never are or intend to become pregnant—and important to cultural beliefs and study.

Historical Background

People have developed theories and speculated on ...

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