Sport for All, or Fit for Two? Governing the (In)active Pregnancy

  • Shannon Jette


Where the pregnant body is concerned, the Sport for All model is superseded by the imperative that women be ‘fit for two.’ That is to say, medical guidelines and policies put into place are not concerned with ensuring access to and enjoyment of physical activity or sport for pregnant women, but rather are intent on prescribing the correct amount of movement to ensure the optimal health of the unborn child. This is not a new trend. As I demonstrate in this chapter, exercise in pregnancy has long served a (bio)political function, albeit the aims have shifted from ensuring a strong nation state in the late eighteenth century to reducing the economic burden of unhealthy bodies in the contemporary neoliberal moment. Looking to the work of Michel Foucault, as well as scholars who have further developed his theoretical insights on bodily discipline and societal regulation (see Rose and Miller, The British Journal of Sociology, 43(2), 173–205, 1992; Rose, The politics of life itself: Biomedicine, power, and subjectivity in the twenty-first century. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007), I use an analytical framework of governmentality to explore the changing ideas about exercise in pregnancy at three ‘moments’ in history: the rise of medicine and public health (at the turn of the twentieth century); the emergence of second-wave feminism and ensuing debates about pregnant sporting bodies; and the current so-called obesity epidemic. My aim is to bring to light the politically charged nature of exercise advice provided to pregnant women that, while posed as objective and neutral, ultimately functions to limit the (in)activities in which women feel they are permitted to engage, placing undue pressure upon them to be ‘fit for two.’


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shannon Jette
    • 1
  1. 1.University of MarylandCollege ParkUSA

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