The Conditional Pregnancy

Years ago, women attempting to bear children waited to seek a pregnancy test until their second missed period. They then went in for the so-called "rabbit test," and a positive result was often sufficient to warrant announcing the "happy news." These days, the home tests available at most supermarkets or drug stores are accurate on the first day of the first missed period. However, earlier knowledge, coupled with increases in prenatal diagnostic techniques, has not always resulted in earlier announcements of impending births. Rather, women are increasingly aware that, on average, one sixth of human pregnancies will result in miscarriage before the end of the twelfth week. Perhaps not surprisingly, some couples are then waiting to announce the pregnancy either until after the end of the first trimester or until they have seen a healthy fetus developing on a sonogram.

Couples are also becoming increasingly more guarded and concerned about genetic disorders, as well. Some of these couples who are concerned that a negative result will lead them to terminate the pregnancy prefer to keep the news of a pregnancy private until they are sure that they will go through with the pregnancy. Some women say that they also consciously try to avoid accepting or "bonding" with the pregnancy for fear of becoming attached only to have to lose the pregnancy through miscarriage or following the adverse result of one or another test. Clearly, as our technology gets better, the number of disorders that can be analyzed will increase dramatically. One cannot help but wonder just how "conditional" pregnancy can become, and what kinds of psychological effects this concept of conditional pregnancy will have on those who wait for the moment when they can decide that they can finally believe that they are going to have a baby.

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