Aimee Middlemiss


PhD Researcher in Sociology (ESRC 1+3)
Sociology, Philosophy and Anthropology, University of Exeter

Start date: September 2016

Research topic: Contested personhood in Second Trimester Pregnancy Loss in Britain

In England, the loss of a pregnancy in the Second Trimester, after 13 weeks’ gestation but before legally defined foetal viability at 24 weeks, often entails a process of labour, birth, and the possibility of an encounter with a recognizably formed foetal body. The ambiguity of this ending of a pregnancy, which is medically and legally defined as a miscarriage, but which some women experience as a stillbirth or neonatal death, places women in a liminal area in which this life event is not socially acknowledged. In this context, some women may make powerful claims to motherhood and the personhood of the foetus/baby that died. Others may wish for acknowledgement of loss which does not depend on defining themselves as mothers, or their foetuses as babies. My PhD is investigating women’s experiences of Second Trimester Pregnancy Loss in the South West of England using qualitative interviewing and ethnographic fieldwork. It draws on both reproductive sociology and anthropology to try to understand the interaction between personal experience and legal, medical, and other social discourse in this type of pregnancy loss.

Research supervisors: Professor Susan Kelly, Dr Katharine Tyler