Biography, pandemic time and risk: pregnant women reflecting on their experiences of the 2009 influenza pandemic

Davina Lohm, Paul Flowers, Niamh Stephenson, Emily Waller, Mark Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


During the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, it was identified that women in the third trimester of pregnancy were particularly at risk of serious respiratory distress. At-risk women were advised to seek vaccination, avoid contact with anyone unwell, maintain hygiene routines and stop smoking. We examine this situation of emergent and intense risk produced at the intersection of individual biography and the historical event of a public health emergency. We examine how pregnant women took account of risk, how they negotiated incomplete and at times contradictory advice and shaped courses of action that assisted them to manage the emerging terrain of pandemic threat. Public health risk management advice was endorsed, although choosing vaccination was fraught. Social distancing, too, was seen as a valuable risk moderation strategy. However, time, and specifically the intersection of individual pregnancy timelines with the pandemic's timeline, was also seen as an important risk management resource. The implications of this mix of sanctioned and temporal risk management practices are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)493-508
Number of pages16
JournalHealth: An Interdisciplinary Journal for the Social Study of Health, Illness and Medicine
Issue number5
Early online date29 Jan 2014
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2014


  • illness behaviour
  • health policy
  • flu pandemic
  • pregnancy


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