Frontiers in sociology;
The fields of epigenetics and neuroscience have come to occupy a significant place in individual and public life in biomedicalized societies. Social scientists have argued that the primacy and popularization of the "neuro" has begun to shape how patients and other lay people experience themselves and their lifeworlds in increasingly neurological and genetic terms. Pregnant women and new mothers have become an important new target for cutting edge neuroscientific and epigenetic research, with the Internet constituting a highly active space for engagement with knowledge translations. In this paper, we analyze the reception by women in North America of translations of nascent epigenetic and neuroscientific research. We conducted three focus groups with pregnant women and new mothers. The study was informed by a prior scoping investigation of online content. Our focus group findings record how engagement with translations of epigenetic and neuroscientific research impact women's perinatal experience, wellbeing, and self-construal. Three themes emerged in our analysis: (1) A kind of brain; (2) The looping effects of biomedical narratives; (3) Imprints of past experience and the management of the future. This data reveals how mothers engage with the neurobiological style-of-thought increasingly characteristic of public health and popular science messaging around pregnancy and motherhood. Through the molecularization of pregnancy and child development, a typical passage of life becomes saturated with "susceptibility," "risk," and the imperative to preemptively make "healthy' choices." This, in turn, redefines and shapes the experience of what it is to be a "good," "healthy," or "responsible" mother/to-be.