'Don't count your chickens': a comparative study of the experience of pregnancy after IVF conception

C. A. McMahon*, C. Tennant, J. Ungerer, D. Saunders

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    47 Citations (Scopus)


    The aim of this paper was to describe the personal experience of pregnancy for IVF mothers. Seventy in vitro fertilization (IVF) mothers were compared to a control group of 63 older first-time mothers using both questionnaire and interview measures of adjustment at 30 weeks of pregnancy. The IVF group was subdivided into women who had conceived on their first treatment cycle and repeat cycle mothers. Results showed that while there were no differences between the IVF and control group mothers on self-report measures of maternal role acquisition, the experience of pregnancy was different for the IVF mothers. Despite their higher levels of anxiety about the well-being of the baby, the repeat cycle IVF mothers were more likely to report positive, idealized attitudes to pregnancy than were the controls. The repeat cycle IVF mothers also differed from control group mothers in reporting expectations of a more difficult baby, and both 1 cycle and repeat cycle IVF mothers reported fewer conversations with their unborn babies. Measures of denial, information seeking and active preparation for childbirth also differentiated the IVF and control groups, with the IVF mothers engaging in less preparation for birth and parenthood. Interestingly, for these measures it was the 1 cycle mothers who accounted for the group differences. These differences were interpreted as avoidant coping styles adopted by the IVF mothers to protect themselves against potential disappointment in the context of their anxiety about the pregnancy outcome.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)345-356
    Number of pages12
    JournalJournal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 1999


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