Pregnancy in Japan and Israel

The attitudes towards pregnancy are highly different in separate regions of the world, as analyzed by Tsipy Ivry in her book Embodying Culture: Pregnancy in Japan and Israel. From how women are treated to abortion policies, each region has adapted their own unique cultural perspectives on pregnancy. For Japan and Israel, they can be effectively summed up by environmentalism and geneticism, respectively.

Japan’s environmentalism is entrenched in its history of eugenics. In the past, they had sterilized those with undesirable traits but later adopted a stance of “taking care of oneself/the body (odaijini)” to produce better babies (Ivry 127). This shift to taking care of the women has become a large aspect of how the Japanese treat gestation. From a careful diet to reducing anxiety and stresses on the pregnant woman, the health of the mother is core in predicting how healthy the child will be. The Japanese do not necessarily scorn birth defects such as Down Syndrome (Ivry 173); in fact, women, unless they were raped or do not have the financial means to support the child, cannot opt for an abortion. Japanese pregnant women are seen as “less threatening” (Ivry 26) because of this attitude towards children born with Down Syndrome and abortion. Wrongful birth suits are not so much seen as cases for delivery accidents.

Pregnancy in Japan has been cultivated to manage the mother and instill habits to create a bond between parent and child. Though pregnancy is “less medicalized, supervised, and socially manipulated” in Japan than in Israel (Ivry 4), there seems to be a fundamental different system of values in place. Pregnant Japanese women are heavily encouraged to monitor their diets and even talk to their children while they are still in the womb to encourage intelligence and a stable relationship once the child is born.

Israel, in contrast, has adopted an attitude of diagnosing the fetus (Ivry 4). Israel’s geneticism involves a rather fatalistic view that genes and chromosomes of their child are beyond their power. Notably, obgyns push mothers to take many more tests to monitor the health of the developing child. Though pro-natal, Israel has a rather lax policy on abortions. Despite constant legislative attempts to reign in leniency, a “defective fetus” is permitted to be aborted if the mother so desires (though may encounter some resistance past the third trimester) (Ivry 39). The conception of a child does not appear to be featured as prominently; some women cited that they “could hardly imagine…speaking of “babies” in the early stages of pregnancy” (Ivry 2). Doctors are highly stringent in their regiment of testing. Every pregnancy is at high risk of fetal catastrophe, especially given the concept of “Jewish Diseases.” The fetus is meant to be diagnosed rather than formed a bond with.

Both cultures have a wildly different outlook on how pregnancy should be treated—it is a time that should be treated with extreme caution, but Japan and Israel heavily differ on how they handle pregnant women. Though an objective truth might state that neither culture is “more correct” in how they treat pregnant women, would Western culture favor a Japanese viewpoint or an Israeli viewpoint?

18 Replies to “Pregnancy in Japan and Israel”

  1. Karen,

    Thanks for a thoughtful blog post. I like how the very first thing you pointed out was how attitudes towards pregnancy are extremely different in separate societies throughout the world, as I thought this was the most important aspect to take away from the reading. It is so fascinating to dive deep into key cultural differences that exist within major religions and societies throughout the world. Being a student in the business school, I have been researching how cultural differences affect decision making in the business world, and unfortunately have not had the chance to observe something as crucial to civilization as pregnancy so this was a reading I found particularly interesting, given the context and lens I already view cultural differences in.

    I enjoyed how you clearly divided your blog post in such a way that facilitated an organized discussion of Japan and environmentalism versus Israel and geneticism. I found it quite disturbing that Japan has in the past sterilized certain undesirable traits. I think diversity is what makes any country or society unique and exciting and its scary to think that any group of people would want to destroy diversity by targeting a fetus that could potentially have undesirable traits. It was comforting to learn how Japan stopped doing this and began to focus on taking care of pregnant women and appreciating the complexities that lead to a healthy pregnancy and ultimately a positive and stable relationship between mother and child.

    Furthermore, Israel takes such a contrasting and proactive approach to pregnancy in the sense of extreme and thorough genetic testing. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of their methods, however I can definitely appreciate the want to protect parents from having children with severe birth defects and ultimately setting a goal towards having a very healthy pregnancy. I like how you then gave your post a nice conclusion that helped sum things up with an interesting question, yet was hoping you could have provided some of your own thoughts on the question you asked. I personally think Western culture would favor a more Israeli viewpoint.

  2. Karen,

    Thank you for the blog post. I agree with Daniel that your organization of Ivry’s main points was well done; however, integration of your own interpretations and opinions would have added to the post. I appreciate the question that you posed at the end, mostly because I found myself wondering the same idea while reading the text. Part of the reason I kept asking myself this question was because I felt that as I read more, my opinion of what Western culture would value became muddled.

    As a culture influenced by many backgrounds, I’m not sure it’s fair to encompass Western culture as a whole and put it somewhere between Japanese and Israeli viewpoints. In previous class material and discussion, Western ideals have often been segregated into regions. As we’ve discussed, Israel is a relatively small country. For example, in the United States, different regions of the country are classically known for particular opinions about controversial opinions such as prenatal testing and diagnosis. Due to this diversity in opinion amidst the rapid introduction of new technology, it’s hard to say where Western culture truly falls in its holistic interpretation of prenatal care.

  3. Hi Karen, Thanks for your blog post. To respond to your question “would Western culture favor a Japanese viewpoint or an Israeli viewpoint,” I believe that depending on what you’re referring to the West will make a big difference. By West, do you mean Europe? If so, which country or region of Europe? Or when you say Western culture, are you referring to America? These aspects are important to consider before answering your question because each country may house different beliefs, cultures, politics that affect how pregnancy might be treated. As we know, religious beliefs and culture are entangled. I have not studied pregnancy in America, but from my interactions with pregnant women, it definitely seems that America — like Japan and Israel — medicalizes pregnancy. I would speculate that American culture involves aspects from both Israeli and Japanese pregnancies that Ivry discussed, but I would also guess that America favors the Israeli approach to pregnancy for several reasons. For example, women are usually encouraged by doctors to continue their daily lives. I have observed this through my former dance teacher continued to teach our ballet class until the month of her due date. Additionally, I have seen a high school teacher show up to work and teach until the week before she gave birth. As Ivry mentioned in her book, Israeli women are often seen outside in public. American doctors track weight, similar to how Israeli doctors track women’s weight. To that end, I have known women in America to track their diet and weight on their own as pregnant Japanese women do.

  4. Hi Karen,

    Thank you so much for your response. I thought you did an excellent job of clearly describing the two different roles of pregnant women in the two countries. I think that looking at these two very distinct ways of handling and supporting pregnant women is an excellent example of how many different ways the situation can be interpreted. There is probably an infinite amount of ways in which we can handle pregnant women in order to protect the mother and the fetus. Looking at these two ways allows us to think more critically about how we handle the mother and fetus.

    Japan is an example of where any fetus is accepted because an abortion is only allowed when rape occurred. I think because this is the case it forces the culture to not worry as much about diagnostics and testing because, at the end of the day, they are having the baby no matter what. Thus, they instead need to focus on loving the child instead of worrying what the test might say and whether or not they will even have the child.

    Israel, on the other hand, is much more relaxed on their abortion policies. This allows for a mother to figure out everything possible before deciding whether to have a child. Therefore, the Israeli culture would develop into having a lot of tests and diagnosing the fetus during pregnancy.

    This makes me wonder if the laws changed in these two countries and Japan made abortion legal and Israel outlawed it completely, if the nature of being pregnant would swap as well.

  5. Karen, thank you for your post. To answer your question, I truly believe that the Western view toward pregnancy is in the middle of the Israeli and Japanese cultures. For example, Ivry says that the health of the mother determines the health of the baby in the Japanese culture which is a bit more passive toward pregnancies. I tend to agree with this statement as I know from previous health teachings that vices such as drinking and smoking during pregnancy can be quite harmful to the fetus in its development. Another activity that the Japanese do that I have seen before is talking to the baby while still in the womb. It is said to establish a greater bond between the fetus and the parents, which is why it is done both in Japan and America. On the contrary, women are only allowed to abort their child if they were either raped and/or do not have the financial means to provide a good life.
    The Israeli view differs mostly in the amount of tests that are done and how much control the mother actually has in the development of the fetus. Firstly, Israeli culture believes that genes and chromosomes are beyond our power, and I neither agree nor disagree with this statement. It is quite difficult to deny the fact that we are all a part of our own unique family trees that extend for generations. Consequently, there are certain traits, features, and even defects at times, that are passed down through our genes that we simply cannot control when the baby is growing. As for the amount of testing they do, I believe that it does help monitor the child and mother, but at the end of the day they can only discover what they baby has and doesn’t have. Western culture lies in the middle of these two in this case because there is a happy medium between medical tests and a mother’s actions. Both have the same effect of trying to make sure that the growing baby is as healthy as possible, so that he or she may live a fulfilling life.

  6. Thanks for your analysis of Ivry’s book! Personally, I found the book to be an interesting comparison since I’m unfamiliar with both cultures described in the book. I especially found the Japanese outlook to pregnancy fascinating; Japan’s focus on controlling the mother’s environment, and thereby the composition of the amniotic fluid and surrounding environment of the fetus, is a similar approach to one that India seems to take. I have seen many Indian families similarly stress the importance of diet, rest, and proper health of a pregnant woman. As you noted, Japanese women emphasize the need to bond with the fetus, and go to great lengths in trying to respect, understand, and personify the fetus. Personally, I liked this approach; it treats the fetus as if it is a living organism with emotions and desires. This approach is one of the most pro-natal views I have heard of, and I appreciated Ivry’s analysis of this point of view.

    Isreali women are also pro-natal in many aspects. As we pointed out last time in class, Isreal is one of the leading nations in the world in use of IVF; however, they also protect the parents’ rights to abort a child. This approach to the fetus is not as strongly pro-natal as that of Japan. I also found Isreal’s approach to pregnancy to be more similar to our Western approach; women often work for most of their pregnancies and take very little time off pre- and post- giving birth.

  7. Hi Karen! Thanks for the summary and commentary of the reading. I liked how you touched on the cultural values of both Israel and Japan because I think it’s essential to know how each culture views pregnancy in order to understand the different practices that take place in each society. Going off of your point of environmentalism in Japan and geneticism in Israel, I thought it was interesting how, as Ivry brought up, two cultures that have many similarities have very different attitudes towards pregnancy. Of course she acknowledges that the cultures also have many differences but I appreciated that she touched on the facts that both places are non western, modern democracies, highly industrialized and technologized, and have similar healthcare systems and infrastructure. Going back to a point that was brought up in class as well as by Irvy, is that we often implicitly compare other cultures to that of western ones/the US. It was really refreshing that Ivry’s approach in comparing the two cultures did not include western culture as the baseline. A point she also brought up was that both Israel and Japan are pro-natal, which I thought was a rather weak point because what country/culture is not pro-natal? China is the only exception I can think of when implementing their one child policy, so I felt like her claims to similarity between the two were interesting but were exaggerated.
    A point you touched on that I also found interesting was how japanese women monitored their diets and did their best to not, as Ivry explained, waste their doctors time. She even explained that there was a certain level of respect and timidness between the patient and doctor. Irvy explained that these women would refrain from prolonged periods of eye contact and bow to the doctors as they left. That leaves me to ask questions about why this happens. Is it because education is valued more in Japanese culture? Is this difference between patients and doctors what makes Japanese women less will to ask for more information about the health status of their children?

  8. Great post, Karen! The line in your post that really stood out to me was when you stated how in Israeli culture, the fetus is mean to be diagnosed, as opposed to in Japanese culture where the fetus is meant to be bonded with. I think this highlights an important cultural difference between Japan and Israel, especially in regards to the ways in which each culture understands and values fetuses and children. The wide promotion of fetal testing in Israeli culture, in my opinion, vastly dehumanizes the fetus and makes it more of a scientific or medical anomaly that needs to be treated in a very clinical way – like you said, the fetus is something to be diagnosed and almost “cured”, both for the fetus’ sake and the mother’s. In Japanese culture, there is more of a sense of encouraging an understanding of the fetus as a baby with whom the mother may and must already begin to love and bond with during pregnancy. Through this division, I think that Western culture would be and is already more open to the Israeli understanding and treatment of pregnancy than the Japanese.

  9. Thanks to both bloggers of the week for your insightful posts.

    The particular point of comparison between Japanese and Israeli conceptions of pregnancy that stood out to me was that the idea of a woman’s “conduct of her daily life” had an impact on pregnancy and how that concept was so integrated into Japanese society that two Japanese men – both of whom had never been pregnant themselves – gave advice to Ivry about what she should do as a pregnant woman.

    I think that Western societies would form a middle ground between Israeli and Japanese treatment of pregnancy. Pregnant women would not be hidden in the West, as they are in Japan, and would be similar to Israeli women in not taking as much time off work; however, the diet would be considered in the West, as it is in Japan, like in the case of caffeine intake for pregnant women. Although the West may not personify the fetus as strongly, there is a certain level of personification when identifying body parts in the ultrasound. Such identification humanizes the fetus and leads to many anti-abortion supporters to believe that the fetus is to be considered a person in the West. Although Western societies may be stringent about the prevention of diseases, the prevention of fetal anomalies can only occur through the termination of the pregnancy, so specific communities in the West would have to be considered to give detail on a comparison for diagnostic testing.

    Another point that I noted from the reading was the Japanese”odaijini” which you mentioned, as it can be related to previous texts that we’ve read. An important extension of the odaijini that Ivry mentioned was that the body may be an important body, but that does not make it an important somebody. As Morimura had exclaimed, the pregnant body is only important because it does not only belong to the women herself (Ivry, 128). The statement reminded me of our previous reading, “The Father State, Motherland, and the Birth of Modern Turkey,” in which the women were debated to be pawns and how that fit into the larger picture of women symbolizing the nation, but men representing it.

  10. Hi Karen, thanks for your blog post. The point you posed about Israel being a pro-natalist state was one I have been thinking about as well. It does seem a bit hard for me to reconcile that in Israel, having children is so heavily encouraged and yet fetal testing and abortion are also so prevalent. When I imagine a “pro-natal” culture, a more Japanese-like system is what comes to my mind. I was surprised to see so many cultural differences regarding pregnancy between two cultures with similar natal values. Especially given the histories of the two countries, where eugenics was widely imposed and practiced, it is interesting how they both evolved such opposite opinions. It shows the relationship between culture and biotechnology and how, even though Israel and Japan are both technologically advanced countries, they use (or don’t use) these technologies quite differently.

  11. Hey Karen and Maria,

    Thanks for y’all’s great blog posts! I thought they were great summaries of the book for this week’s reading.

    Despite the western/modern(?) influences I’ve had, I have to say I agree more with the Japanese approach to pregnancy/gestation. The book mentions how the Japanese believe that caring for the fetus encourages intelligence and a stable relationship between the fetus/child and mother. This is more than just a belief (and much more than my parents’ belief that going out in cold weather causes sickness), as there is research that supports the fact that a fetus in the third trimester can recognize their mother’s voice, their native language, and even begin to remember word patterns and rhymes (Voegtline et al., 2013, Kisileysky et al., 2008). They also have increased brain activity when exposed to music (Partanen, 2013). There is also research to suggest that even after birth, a child or person could defy their genetics and even display different traits. So much research, in fact, that there’s an entire field devoted to it called epigenetics. Just because a test says there is a high likelihood of a baby being disabled in this way or that doesn’t mean it’s actually going to happen and even if it does happen, it doesn’t mean the baby will suffer to the same extremity when compared to another. There’s so much about development that is still being researched that parents shouldn’t see a potential problem as the sole reason to terminate a pregnancy.

    Coming from a Chinese family, I think my family as with many Asians don’t think most pregnancies should be terminated at all (unless in the common cases of rape, etc.). I also don’t think there’s a whole lot of genetic testing that goes around and more so on par with Ivry’s analysis that mothers should take care of their babies by eating right, providing a great environment, and that “laid back” approach described in the book because it not only is the culturally accepted norm but also supported by scientific research.

    Obviously, Israel is drastically different in their approach and it’s an approach I don’t agree with. However, I understand that every family has a right to choose what’s best for them, but just because the numbers indicate that whatever outcome is probable to happen doesn’t mean it actually does happen. I can attest to that even for myself, as my numbers in high school indicated I (almost definitely) probably wouldn’t get into Emory, and yet somehow I’m here. Thinking that something was set in stone and impossible to change is not something I ever agreed with as much of life is simply not like that, and it’s something that I believe isn’t true for gestation either, especially if it is supported by research.

    Voegtline KM et al. Near-term fetal response to maternal spoken voice Infant Behavior & Development 2013;36:526–533
    Kisilevsky BS et al. Fetal sensitivity to properties of maternal speech and language. Infant Behav Dev 2008;32:59-71.
    Partanen E et al. Learning-induced neural plasticity of speech processing before birth. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2013;110:15145-5.

  12. Hi Karen,

    Thank you for a well written and thoughtful blog post that organized Irvy’s main ideas in a succinct manner. I really enjoyed this reading because it was interesting to see the varying views of pregnant women and how they differ between two cultures, Japan and Israel. Japanese focus on the care of pregnant women emphasizes that by reducing anxiety and other stressors on the mother then the child will be healthy. This leads to a more conservative view on abortion and that unless a woman was raped or cannot support the child, she cannot abort the child. I believe this comes from the view that it seems as if the Japanese view sees that it is up to the agency of the mother and the environment she is in to create a “healthy” baby. One the other hand, Israel is much more lenient with abortion policies. One thing that really stood out to me was the term of a “defective fetus”, and how this was grounds to abort. The term “defective” gives an almost negative connotation on a fetus that is tested to have genetic variances or diseases such as down syndrome. This is a term that can have wide interpretations of what is considered “defective” and could lead to people worrying about a slippery slope, which is probably why the Israeli government is trying to reign in the policies. However, the term “defective” and how it relates to down syndrome specifically is especially interesting to me given he current backlash coming from the down syndrome community of how it should not be considered negatively and instead is its own community and an alternate way of being. I am interested to see what the Israeli government considers “defective” and how this could create negative connotations surrounding genetic defects.

  13. Thank you for your post. Obviously two completely different societies and cultures are going to have varying opinions and viewpoints about certain things, and the fetus is no different. Your post does a very good job about highlighting some of the more poignant differences. No view point on this subject is necessarily going to be correct, as are most things in this class that we discuss. I personally agree more with the Israeli point of view on the fetus. Based on your post and the reading, I have inferred that Israel takes a much more modern approach to the fetus, whereas the Japanese are older fashioned. I believe this also is evident in the abortion policies of each respective nation. Connecting this approach with your question, I would have to say that western culture would favor the Israeli viewpoint. Personally, I believe that Israel’s way is more correct also because of their emphasis on medical testing. A fetus at this time is not a baby, but rather a collection of cells that is in the making, and to fully ensure that it will develop into a baby, regular testing is needed. I think an interesting question would be are there any societies that have a mix of the Japanese and Israeli way?

  14. Hi Karen,
    Thanks for the great post. You did a great job organizing the key points of each culture. For me, the Japanese approach resonated with me more so than the Israeli approach. I feel that the Japanese focus much more on what they can do right now rather than what could happen later like the Israelis. As we saw in the film last class, fetal testing lead to fear and anxiety of the mother which was mentioned in Ivry’s text. These emotions throw the body’s hormones in disarray and could negatively affect the fetus. While am not saying that fetal testing should not be done, I feel that the mother should be focused on doing what she can to make the fetus a safe and healthy environment to decrease the chances of abnormalities at birth.

    In your post, you ask which culture would be more accepted by western cultures. In Maria’s post, I placed the United States at a midpoint between the two. However, if the United States had to choose one or the other, I would say that Israeli views would be more accepted as there is more autonomy within its structure. I feel that Japanese views are too strict for the United States. Abortion and fetal testing are already very controversial topics in the United States and I feel the most people in the United States would rather have the option available rather than a very limited option.

  15. Thank you to both Karen and Maria for the great blog posts!

    The point made about how Japanese medical discourse is very body-focused is really interesting. They focus more on providing a nurturing environment for the “baby” rather than promoting the health of the pregnant woman. This differs significantly from discourse in Israel, where talking about the unborn “fetus” mainly concerns its genetic makeup, any abnormalities, and tests that can be performed to know more about the fetus (Ivry, 2). The differences in the medical discourse lead to significant differences in Israel and Japan in that Japanese women aren’t as aware of the biotechnology available to diagnose conditions prenatally, but rather they focus on an overall healthy diet and lifestyle for the baby (Ivry, 173). This trickles into the more social and political sphere that constitutes a difference in Japan and Israel. Women are supposed to take off work for months at a time in Japan when they are pregnant to make sure they can rest properly for the good of the baby, versus Carmit’s ideas of trying to be a “loyal worker” who never misses work (Ivry, 190). While there is a wide range of ideas of motherhood in Israel, it appears most women tend to portray themselves as strong and independent, as they do not consider pregnancy a major impairment in their lives. To me, it seems as thought Japanese culture views pregnancy as a more positive and optimistic time of a woman’s life whereas Israeli culture views the fetus’s “normality” as more important.

    Another noteworthy point was regarding the anxiety felt by women in Israel about having tests done during pregnancy. She recalls her own experiences of being anxious and almost pressured to take certain tests for genetic abnormalities and wonders if she had stayed in Japan, would she have been this anxious (Ivry, 3). I suppose the dilemma for women these days involves the anxiety of testing and the anxiety of knowing there could be something “abnormal,” and thus requires a tough decision. This ties in with the “global medical system of categorization” (Ivry, 50) and how testing is really the only surefire way in Israel to be categorized as low or high risk. This puts a lot more pressure on the woman to know more about the fetus’s health. Contrasted starkly to Japan, where the woman’s health is the priority.

    I personally feel as though Western societies cannot be placed on any one end of this continuum. While they are more stringent on testing/health-conscious, I believe the stigma against genetic abnormalities or other disorders (such as Down’s) is becoming less and less. This comes with an increase in proper education surrounding these disorders. I suppose testing and being prepared for a child with a certain disorder is on the rise, but that comes with positive and warm regards toward the child. Western societies are perhaps more equipped with the right resources, programs, and mindsets to help all children, making testing for genetic abnormalities less scary.

  16. I like the contrast that you draw between the environmentalist and geneticist societies of Japan and Israel. I find it interesting that the social aspect previously played a big role in Japanese pregnancy, with the shunning of abnormalities and such, but has since shifted to a more accepting, less medicalized approach. It seems as though the approach in Israel is similar to the old Japanese attitude in its rigorous attitude surrounding abnormalities, but is seems to be more accepting of the fact, and is more tolerant toward abortions for fetuses with diseases.

  17. Hi Karen, I really enjoyed reading this blog post. You very clearly divided up your reading of Ivry into her discussions of Israel and Japan respectively, identifying some of the key themes of each country and its conception of pregnancy (no pun intended). I appreciate that you identify environmentalism and geneticism as the sources of these cultural perspective. Tracing back even further, I am curious about what is unique to Japan such that it has a history of eugenics. Is there an aspect of Japanese culture that is obsessed with purity? Is there a historical, national concern about breeding the highest quality offspring? Similarly, I would love to discuss further what it is about Israeli and Jewish culture that brings geneticism to the forefront of their conceptions of pregnancy. You note that Ivry points out that while Israel is pronatalist, they are also pro abortion. How does scientific excellence in the field of reproductive knowledge contrast with the traditional religious foundations of Israeli culture? Ivry writes Zionism is founded on religious ideals but is not inherently religious, but I’d be curious to further delve into the relationship between religion and state in the context of how Israel views pregnancy. Overall, great work! I hope to address some of these larger scale questions in class tomorrow.

  18. Hi Karen,

    Thanks for your post and recap of the main themes in the book. I do agree with Paige that adding some extra analysis and your own opinion would help us better answer the question you pose at the end of your post. Before attempting to answer your question, I’d like to note that I disagree with your use of the word “wildly” when describing the difference in how pregnancy is treated in Japan and Israel. Although Ivry perpetuates the point using various forms of evidence that Japanese prenatal care is more focused on a mother’s health to promote the best outcomes in the fetus and Israeli prenatal care concerns the well-being of the fetus and its potential health consequences, I found the overall goal of each medical system to maximize the health outcomes of both the mother and the fetus. Yes, there are very different foundational influences in the formation of these medical systems and bases of thought for what pregnancy looks like and how it should be approached, but each society views caring about pregnancy in terms of the larger good of the population as well as the individuals involved.

    I’d also like to note that I’m not sure if Western culture would necessarily “favor” Japanese or Israeli approaches to care and pregnancy, as there are certain components of each that are valuable to all societies. Some peers before me have noted significant factors contributing to this question, so I will touch on a different aspect. I am interested in looking at the differences between Israel and Japan with respect to Western culture especially in terms of male involvement during pregnancy and male attitudes towards pregnant women. This fascinates me mostly because I cannot, right now, come to a conclusion of typical male involvement in pregnancy in Western culture itself (thinking from the perspective of a U.S. citizen). On one hand, Western culture relies on a patriarchal family structure, yet is progressing to involve men in more areas of domestic life and childcare. Ivry mentions that in Japan, men also have varying roles in pregnancy. While Japanese prenatal care encourages fathers to learn how to be a father rather than to assist with birth, some informants noted that there is lack of a common perception of a father’s duties during pregnancy to the fetus or to the mother (Ivry 160-165). Similar themes in Ivry’s work appear regarding Israeli fathers. I’d be curious to see if anybody else was able to draw a different conclusion from the reading. Thanks again for your post and looking forward to class!

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