Anxiety during pregnancy and fetal attachment after in-vitro fertilization conception

Catherine A. McMahon, Judy A. Ungerer, Janet Beaurepaire, Christopher Tennant, Douglas Saunders*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    122 Citations (Scopus)


    The aim of this study was to compare 70 couples who had conceived by in-vitro fertilization (IVF) with 63 matched controls for the prevalence of anxiety and quality of attachment to the baby during pregnancy. Results for mothers showed no group differences using a global measure of anxiety, the Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory. However, pregnancy-specific measures revealed significantly higher levels of anxiety in IVF mothers about the survival and normality of their unborn babies, about damage to their babies during childbirth and about separating from their babies after birth. When IVF mothers were differentiated according to the number of treatment cycles, more differences in anxiety level were revealed, with most increases occurring in mothers who had experienced two or more treatment cycles. IVF fathers did not differ from controls on the global anxiety measure. No data on pregnancy-specific anxiety were available for fathers. Neither IVF mothers nor IVF fathers differed from controls on measures of attachment to the baby during pregnancy. Results are discussed in the context of the need for researchers to employ differentiated and issue-specific measures to identify concerns that may be unique to IVF couples. Clinical implications regarding the need for psychological support during pregnancy are also discussed.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)176-182
    Number of pages7
    JournalHuman Reproduction
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 1997


    • IVF
    • Parental anxiety and attachment
    • Pregnancy specific measures
    • Psychological support


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