Pregnancy, labour and beyond following successful fertility treatment
It is estimated that around 1 in 7 couples in the UK experience infertility (NICE, 2013) equating to approximately 3.5 million people. Seeking to improve support for women pregnant after assisted conception, here are a few points that Katie Eaves has highlighted in the RCM Midwives Magazine (2015):
- Acknowledge the journey these women have been on prior to pregnancy.
- Encourage mothers to express any anxieties and reassure with accurate information, assessment and monitoring.
- Promote confidence for these women to carry a baby through pregnancy, to labour normally, and with parenting skills.
Some of the research findings highlight the impact of infertility and fertility treatments as follows:
- Feelings of loss/bereavement from failure to conceive
- Social isolation
- Stigma/taboo attached to infertility
- Couples avoid/withdraw from social groups
- Financial strains from cost of treatments
- Overriding feeling of failure
Women say they feel different when pregnant after infertility/fertility treatment:
- Reported sense of abandonment (Morgan, 2008)
- More hospital admissions due to anxiety (Kondstall et al 2000)
- This cohort have specific psychological needs which differ significantly from women with spontaneous conceptions (Hjelmstedt et al, 2004)
- Adjustment to pregnancy and transition to parenthood can be difficult, with parents loathe to discuss negative feelings (French et al, 2015)
This series is about recognising and acknowledging the additional support that women and families may require following their experience with infertility and subsequently becoming pregnant. With thanks to Katie Eaves, Midwifery Educator and Labour ward coordinator who is passionate about providing support for pregnancy after infertility/ assisted conception.