Dr Kylie Baldwin

Job: Senior Lecturer

Faculty: Health and Life Sciences

School/department: School of Allied Health Sciences

Address: De Montfort, University, The Gateway, Leicester, LE1 9BH.

T: +44 (0)116 257 7735

E: KBaldwin@dmu.ac.uk

W: http://www.dmu.ac.uk/hls

 

Personal profile

Kylie Baldwin is a Sociologist with an interest in women’s health, reproduction, (in)fertility, gender and reproductive technologies.

She completed her doctoral research at DMU in 2016 which explored women’s use and experience of a new form of fertility preservation: social egg freezing. Her work has received significant coverage in the news media and has been discussed on the BBC, in the Guardian, The Times and Daily Mail. Kylie currently teaches on the Sociology and Health Studies programme at DMU.

Publications and outputs 

  • On Ice: the impact of vitrification on the use of eggs in fertility treatment
    On Ice: the impact of vitrification on the use of eggs in fertility treatment Baldwin, K.; Gray, D.; Hudson, Nicky The possibility to freeze sperm and embryos has long been available to men and women facing infertility as a result of an illness or medical treatment. However, the ability to successfully cryopreserve human eggs is comparatively recent. The introduction and increasing use of egg vitrification from the mid-2000s onwards, alongside the use of ICSI, has seen improved on-going clinical pregnancy rates compared to slow freezing methods. Despite concerns, the technology has been widely embraced by the scientific community and in recent years has been applied in a greater variety of contexts. In this short commentary paper, we consider two specific applications for the vitrification of human eggs in routine assisted reproduction practice: social egg freezing and the use of frozen eggs in egg donation. We suggest that vitrification is transforming the reproductive landscape in novel and complex ways and that we must be alert to the challenges, complexities and ethics of such developments, especially for those who may be excluded or marginalised by these techniques. open access article
  • Reproduction research: From complexity to methodological innovation
    Reproduction research: From complexity to methodological innovation Buhler, N; Daly, I; Hudson, Nicky; Baldwin, K.; Herbrand, C.
  • Women’s experience of social egg freezing: perceptions of success, risks, and ‘going it alone’
    Women’s experience of social egg freezing: perceptions of success, risks, and ‘going it alone’ Baldwin, K.; Culley, Lorraine Abstract Objective: To explore how female users of social egg freezing technology reported their experience of freezing eggs for ‘social’ reasons. Background: Very few studies have explored women’s experiences of social egg freezing. The limited primary research on this topic has suggested that users find the process of freezing eggs emotionally challenging. Methods: Semi-structured interviews were carried out with 31 women who identified as undergoing egg freezing for social reasons. Interviews lasted between 40 minutes and two hours, were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim. Data were analysed using thematic analysis assisted by Nvivo 10. Results: Women employed multiple concepts of egg freezing 'success'. They reported a lack of detailed discussion of post-freezing processes and outcomes in their encounters with clinicians, and, contrary to the recommendations of professional associations, were not given clinic or age specific information. Few perceived freezing as involving physical risks. However, many participants reported the process of egg freezing as emotionally challenging, primarily linked to feelings of isolation and stigma due to their single status Conclusion Participants were generally satisfied with the treatment they received from clinics. However, they expressed a desire for more detailed information about potential outcomes from egg freezing and suggested ways in which clinics might address the emotional challenges of undertaking this process as an unpartnered person. The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.
  • Running out of time: Exploring women’s motivations for social egg freezing
    Running out of time: Exploring women’s motivations for social egg freezing Baldwin, K.; Hudson, Nicky; Culley, Lorraine; Mitchell, H. Objective: Few qualitative studies have explored women’s use of social egg freezing. Derived from an interview study of 31 participants, this paper explores the motivations of women using this technology. Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 31 users of social egg freezing resident in the UK (n= 23), USA (n=7) and Norway (n=1). Interviews were face to face (n=16), through Skype and Facetime (n=9) or by telephone (n=6). Data were analysed using interpretive thematic analysis. Results: Women’s use of egg freezing was shaped by fears of running out of time to form a conventional family, difficulties in finding a partner and concerns about ‘panic partnering’, together with a desire to avoid future regrets and blame. For some women, use of egg freezing was influenced by recent fertility or health diagnoses as well as critical life events. A fifth of the participants also disclosed an underlying fertility or health issue as affecting their decision. Conclusion: The study provides new insights in to the complex motivations women have for banking eggs. It identifies how women’s use of egg freezing was an attempt to ‘preserve fertility’ in the absence of the particular set of ‘life conditions’ they regarded as crucial for pursuing parenthood. It also demonstrates that few women were motivated by a desire to enhance their career and that the boundaries between egg freezing for medical and for social reasons may be more porous than first anticipated. The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.
  • STAGE PLAY REVIEW- Eggistentialism by Joanne Ryan at the Arcola Theatre, London
    STAGE PLAY REVIEW- Eggistentialism by Joanne Ryan at the Arcola Theatre, London Baldwin, K. The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. Open access journal
  • Conceptualising women's motivations for social egg freezing and experience of reproductive delay
    Conceptualising women's motivations for social egg freezing and experience of reproductive delay Baldwin, K. As the average age of motherhood in many Western countries continues to rise, the spectacle of the older mother and the trend towards delayed childbearing has been the subject of much public debate and interest. Concurrent to this trend has been the development and use of a new form of fertility preservation-social egg freezing- a technology which by its very nature is meant to enable reproductive delay. Whilst previous studies have been able to provide insights into the complex and often interrelating structural, economic, and relational factors shaping the timing of motherhood, and in some cases women’s use of social egg freezing, fewer studies have clearly demonstrated the way these factors themselves, as well as the accounts of individual women, can be seen as being shaped by ideological and discursive forces. Drawing on interviews with 31 users of social egg freezing this paper will demonstrate how women’s accounts of reproductive delay and use of egg freezing technology can be seen as being shaped by neoliberal rationality, heteronormativity, discourses of ‘appropriate parenting’ and gendered ideologies of parenthood. The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version.
  • Stage Play Review: The Egg Rumour
    Stage Play Review: The Egg Rumour Baldwin, K. na The file attached to this record is the author's final version.
  • 'I suppose I think to myself, that's the best way to be a mother': how ideologies of parenthood shape women’s reproductive intentions and their use of social egg freezing
    'I suppose I think to myself, that's the best way to be a mother': how ideologies of parenthood shape women’s reproductive intentions and their use of social egg freezing Baldwin, K. The age distribution of women giving birth in England and Wales, as well as many other Western countries, has changed significantly in recent decades with growing numbers of women having children later in their reproductive lives. However, motherhood at an older age is positively associated with greater risks to mother and child including complications during pregnancy and birth as well as an increased risk of age-related infertility. In response to the increasing numbers of women attempting childbearing at an older age, a new form of technology has emerged, one which has the promissory potential to enable women to preserve a number of healthy young eggs for potential future use after the decline of their nature fertility. This technology is egg freezing, or as it is often referred, egg freezing for social reasons. This paper will examine the technology of egg freezing and its use for social reasons and will argue that current lay and media representations of this technology which infer a deliberative 'choice' on behalf of the user to delay motherhood, to pursue career advancement, does not adequately or accurately reflect the experiences of women engaging with this technology. Instead, and by drawing on data collected in 31 interviews with female users of this technology, this paper will suggest that women's decision to engage in egg freezing as well as their perceptions about the timing of motherhood can be seen as being shaped by contemporary parenting culture and ideologies of parenthood. Furthermore, this paper will examine how these ideologies and expectations about parenthood are shaped by the demographic profile of the users of this technology. The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.
  • Ice, Ice, Baby? A Sociological Exploration of Social Egg Freezing
    Ice, Ice, Baby? A Sociological Exploration of Social Egg Freezing Baldwin, K. Social egg freezing is a fertility preservation strategy which enables women to preserve a number of healthy unfertilised eggs for potential future use when faced with the threat of age-related fertility decline. The overall aim of this thesis was to explore how women understand, construct and experience social egg freezing in the context of debates surrounding reproductive ‘choice’ and ‘delayed motherhood’. The study sought to provide insights into how women perceive the risks and benefits of social egg freezing, how it relates to their discourses of parenthood and their future reproductive intentions as well as how the ‘medical’ encounter in egg freezing is experienced. The thesis draws on Layder’s theory of social domains, selectively focusing on the domains of contextual resources, situated activity, and psychobiography to explore the macro and micro level aspects of social egg freezing (Layder 2006). Consistent with this theoretical framework, the study utilised a multi-method approach: a content and critical discourse analysis of UK newspaper articles on egg freezing, a demographic questionnaire, and semi-structured interviews with 31 users of egg freezing technology. ‘Career reasons’ were presented as the dominant motivation for social egg freezing in newspaper reports. Highly gendered messages interwoven with discourses of blame and failure were identified throughout the newspaper sample alongside moralising discourses calling for women to act responsibly towards their fertility. Emotive language and specific lexical choices were central in constructing discourses about motherhood and reproductive timing which largely excluded a consideration of the structural, relational and ideological factors which influence reproductive timing and reproductive ‘choice’. The demographic profile of interview participants was similar to that found in existing quantitative studies of social egg freezing. Participants were predominantly single, highly educated women in professional careers, with an average age of 37 at the time of undergoing egg freezing. Egg freezing was constructed by participants in relation to a particular biological project and sense of self. Motherhood was something they wanted to experience at the ‘right time’ with the ‘right partner’. The right time for motherhood was related to the feeling of ‘being ready’, which was often linked to the acquisition of certain preconditions for parenthood. The ‘right’ partner was constructed as someone who reflected certain cultural ideals often associated with ‘new fatherhood’. The absence of such a partner indicated that it was the wrong time to pursue motherhood and thus led women to pursue social egg freezing. Many participants reported that a particular issue or event had acted as a critical factor leading them to undergo egg freezing. These included the breakdown of a relationship or the diagnosis of a health or fertility related problem, thus blurring the conceptual distinction between medical and social egg freezing. Through the use of Layder’s theory of social domains and concepts of neoliberalism and biomedicalisation, the thesis argues that women’s engagement with this technology is influenced by both macro and micro sociological factors including ideologies of parenthood, an individual’s social location, relationships with intimate partners and men’s fathering intentions. When faced with the ‘risk knowledge’ of their declining ovarian reserve, the female users of this technology can be seen as enacting ‘reproductive responsibility’ commensurate with neoliberal values of responsibility, self-actualisation and self-determined action in pursuit of a particular construction of motherhood. This theorisation provides a challenge to current understandings around delayed motherhood and suggests that women’s use of social egg freezing should not be seen simply as the outcome of women’s ‘choice’, but as a process involving a complex interrelation of discourses which contextualises decision making in the reproductive realm. This research has implications for practitioners, regulators, users and potential users of this technology, as well as for researchers concerned with questions of reproductive choice, delayed motherhood and reproductive timing
  • Oocyte cryopreservation for social reasons: demographic profile and disposal intentions of UK users
    Oocyte cryopreservation for social reasons: demographic profile and disposal intentions of UK users Baldwin, K.; Culley, Lorraine; Hudson, Nicky; Mitchell, H. A small number of studies from the USA and Europe have provided some data on the profile and characteristics of women who have undergone oocyte cryopreservation for what has been termed elective, social or non-medical reasons; however, little is known in a UK context about which women are undergoing oocyte cryopreservation or their reproductive intentions and actions after the procedure. Drawing on data from an exploratory study of 23 UK resident women who had undergone social oocyte cryopreservation, the demographic profile of these women, their reproductive intentions and actions are discussed, as well as their attitudes and intentions towards their cryopreserved oocytes should they never require them in treatment. The study found that, at the time of oocyte cryopreservation, women were on average 36.7 years of age, were university educated, with 65% of the sample holding further postgraduate or professional qualifications. Fifty-seven per cent of the participants were in professional employment. All participants identified as heterosexual and 87% were not in a relationship at the time of cryopreserving their oocytes. Most (88%) participants stated that they would donate unwanted oocytes to research or to other women for use in fertility treatment should they never require them.

Click here for a full listing of Kylie Baldwin's publications and outputs.

Research interests/expertise

  • Sociology of Health, Illness and Medicine
  • Social Egg Freezing
  • Fertility Preservation
  • Ageing and Fertility
  • Infertility and Involuntary Childlessness
  • Users experience of Assisted Reproductive Technologies

Areas of teaching

Kylie lectures on the BSc Health, Wellbeing in Society programme delivering modules on Medical Sociology, Gender and Health, and Research Methods.

Qualifications

  • BA Sociology (First Class) University of Leicester
  • MSc Social Research (Merit) University of Leicester
  • PhD Sociology (2016)

Membership of professional associations and societies

  • Member of British Sociological Association
  • Co-convenor of the British Sociological Association Human Reproduction Study Group
  • Committee member of BSA Medical Sociology Group

Conference attendance

    Selected Conference Attendance:
  • Metric Culture: The Quantified Self and Beyond conference, Aarhus University, Denmark, 7  June 2017, 'Reproductive citizenship: monitoring risk and managing responsibility'

  • British Sociology Association Medical Sociology Pre-Conference Early Career Event, University of York, 12 September 2017, (Invited Speaker) 'Research fellowships and funding'
  • British Sociological Association Annual Medical Sociology Conference, Aston University 9th September 2016, 'Compelled to try: social egg freezing and reproductive citizenship'

  • Reproductive rights, new reproductive technologies and the European fertility market, 19-20 November 2015 Santander, Spain, 'Social egg freezing: a rational market choice?'

  • 2nd International Symposium on Social Egg Freezing, Barcelona 6th March 2015, 'The importance and relevance of 'critical experiences’ in understanding women's motivations for social egg freezing: experiences from the UK'

  • Department of Medical Ethics and History of Medicine Goettingen University, Germany, Postponed Motherhood and the Ethics of the Family-14th October 2014 at Goettingen University, Germany. 'Frozen futures: The profile and motivations of women who freeze their eggs for ‘social’ reasons'

Professional esteem indicators

  • Reviewer for: Human Fertility, Human Reproduction, Reproductive Biomedicine Online, Health Risk and Society, Sociology of Health and Illness, Youth Studies, Sage Books, Women’s Health.
  • External examiner at The University of Winchester and The Open University
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Media interest and publicity 

Kylie's research has received widespread media attention and has featured in the following outputs: The Guardian, The Telegraph, BBC Radio 4, BBC World, The Times, The Independent, Marie Claire and The Pool.

Selected invited speaking:

  • Invited speaker for the British Sociological Association MedSoc Early Career Pre-Conference event 12th September 2017
  • Guest contributor/researcher BBC Radio 4 Documentary- ‘The Great Egg Freeze’
  • Invited Speaker/panel member for Timeless Public Debate: ‘Can women have it all?’ Funded by the LSE and Wellcome Trust, London, March 2016
  • Invited Speaker for the British Science Festival 2016 Scientific Section Presidential Address. Swansea University 7th September 2016 ‘Social egg freezing: motherhood on ice?’
  • Invited speaker for SmartEgg Event, London, ‘Egg freezing 101’ 7th February 2017
Kylie Baldwin

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