Pregnancy and the Reproductive Habitus of Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Women

Elly Teman, Tsipy Ivry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Anthropological scholarship frames pregnancy as an out of ordinary embodied event, rarely focusing on mothers of more than four children. We interviewed 49 ultra-orthodox Jewish [Haredi] women in Israel and the US who birthed up to 16 children. We suggest that Haredi women are acculturated to the routines of pregnancy, childbirth, and a habitual position of receptiveness toward continuous childbearing as an act of religious devotion. This “circumferential habitus” prepares women for the routines, attitudes, and dispositions of pregnancy as a way of life. Nevertheless, the deeply embodied experiences of pregnancy do not become “second nature,” revealing the “holes” or limits of the reproductive habitus.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)772-784
Number of pages13
JournalMedical Anthropology: Cross Cultural Studies in Health and Illness
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • Pregnancy
  • childbearing
  • religion
  • reproductive habitus
  • ultra-orthodox Jewish women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Anthropology


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