Pregnancy, illness and the concept of career
This paper explores a neglected area of women's reproductive experience, namely major illness during pregnancy. It draws on a qualitative study of 15 women who had either a pre-existing illness or developed a major health problem during pregnancy, and explores in detail the accounts of four contrasting case histories. Analysis is framed by the concept of career. It is argued, however, that an understanding of the women's experiences requires that pregnancy and illness are treated as separate, but co-existent, career paths. Pregnancy and illness were more than a concatenation of contingencies for each other. Pregnancy and the subsequent birth were influenced by the preceding and envisaged course of the illness, and the experience of illness was partly configured by the events of pregnancy. The paper considers the conceptual implications of multiple career analysis, and argues that a multiple career analytic approach has relevance for an understanding of other areas of health care, such as the experience of patients suffering from two or more concurrent illnesses.