In the early twentieth century, prenatal care was promoted as the answer to infant mortality and adverse birth outcomes, including birth defects. The United States today consistently ranks poorly among industrialized nations on measures of infant and maternal mortality, despite widespread utilization of prenatal care. As a result of this conundrum, the boundaries of pregnancy risk shifted in the last decades of the twentieth century. In 2004, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) launched the Preconception Health and Health Care Initiative, promoting pre-pregnancy health and health care among women of reproductive age, with numerous implications for how we think about risk, medicine, and maternity. My book on this topic, The Zero Trimester: Pre-Pregnancy Care and the Politics of Reproductive Risk, was published with the University of California Press in 2017. The Zero Trimester details how cultural discourses around the role of women, the politics of motherhood, and the imperatives of population health and medicine have shaped the scientific and policy construction of a pre-pregnancy care agenda now pervasive in reproductive risk discussions.
This project was awarded the Rose Laub Coser Award from the Eastern Sociological Society and was supported by the Sociology Program at the National Science Foundation (SES-1029087). More recently, The Zero Trimester was selected as one of five finalists for the 2017 C. Wright Mills Award. This award is a distinction awarded annually by the Society for the Study of Social Problems to the author of the book that "best exemplifies outstanding social science research and a great understanding of the individual and society in the tradition of the distinguished sociologist, C. Wright Mills."