Unfulfilled parenthood in the eyes of young adults
More details
Hide details
Submission date: 2014-08-14
Final revision date: 2014-08-29
Acceptance date: 2014-08-29
Online publication date: 2014-09-18
Publication date: 2014-09-22
Health Psychology Report 2014;2(3):189–196
The goal of the study was to present young adults’ perceptions of the experience of loss of a child at different stages of its prenatal development, as well as the level of declared support for couples after the loss.

Participants and procedure
The study used a scenario method based on the method by Claudia Lapman and Seana Dowling-Guyer (1995), translated into Polish by Joanna Szymańska (2013). One of the Berlin Social Support Scales (BSSS, Łyszczyńska, Kowalska, Mazurkiewicz, & Schwarzer, 2006) was also used. One hundred ninety two young adults (mean age = 26.76, SD = 4.64) took part in the research, mainly university students of technical subjects and humanities.

The study showed that couples who lost their child, regardless of the stage at which it occurred (miscarriage or fetal death), were assessed more frequently as caring, loving, tender and sensitive, in comparison to couples for whom there was no mention of a child at all. Women who lost their child at a later stage (after the 22nd week of pregnancy) were assessed significantly more frequently as relaxed, less lonely, calm and more self-confident than women who miscarried. The results were similar to those for women from the control scenario, where there was no mention of a child at all. In terms of declared support, the subjects declared significantly higher emotional support (expressing empathy, care, trust, intimacy, allowing for self-expression, etc.) for couples who experienced the loss at a later stage of pregnancy than in the control scenario, as well as a higher level of instrumental support (providing material goods, solving difficult tasks together) for couples who experienced miscarriage than the controls.

The experience of miscarriage and dealing with the loss is met with lower levels of empathy from the social environment, and, presumably, lower acceptance for grief. It seems important to sensitize people to the experiences of couples who have experienced a miscarriage. It is also important to theoretically and practically prepare psychologists and medical personnel, as well as to develop written guidelines.
Abasi, E., Tahmasebi, H., Zafari M., & Takami, G. N. (2012). Assessment on effective factors of maternal-fetal attachment in pregnant women. Life Science Journal, 1, 69-75.
Akker van den, O. B. A. (2012). Reproductive Health Psychology. Chichester, West Sussex, UK: Wiley Blackwell.
Bidzan, M. (2013). Nastoletnie rodzicielstwo. Perspektywa psychologiczna [Teenage parenthood. Psychological perspective]. Gdańsk: Harmonia Universalis.
Bielawska-Batorowicz, E. (2006). Psychologiczne aspekty prokreacji [The psychological aspects of procreation]. Katowice: „Śląsk” Wydawnictwo Naukowe.
Branch, D. W., Gibson, M., & Silver, R. M. (2011). Poronienie nawracające [Recurrent miscarriage]. Ginekologia po Dyplomie, 2, 37-44.
Bręborowicz, G. H. (2003). Położnictwo i ginekologia [Obstetrics and Gynaecology]. Warsaw: PZWL.
Central Statistical Office of Poland (GUS) (2012a). Rocznik Demograficzny [Demographic Yearbook]. Warszawa: Zakład Wydawnictw Statystycznych.
Central Statistical Office of Poland (GUS) (2012b). Rocznik Statystyczny [Statistical Yearbook]. Warszawa: Zakład Wydawnictw Statystycznych.
Havighurst, R. J. (1953). Human development and education. New York: Longman & Greens.
Heszen-Niejodek, I. (2005). Teoria stresu psychologicznego i radzenia sobie [The theory of stress and coping]. In: J. Strelau (ed.), Psychologia [Psychology] (pp. 466-492). Gdańsk: GWP.
Jaworowski, A. (2008). Ocena skuteczności metod farmakologicznej indukcji porodu w zaawansowanej ciąży obumarłej [Assessment of methods for pharmacological induction of labour in advanced pregnancy in order to expel a demised foetus]. Cracow: Collegium Medicum UJ.
Kornas-Biela, D. (2000). Okres prenatalny [Prenatal development]. In: B. Harwas-Napierała, & J. Trempała (eds.), Psychologia rozwoju człowieka [The psychology of human development] (pp. 303-316). Warsaw: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN.
Kornas-Biela, D. (2009). Pedagogika prenatalna [Prenatal Pedagogy]. Lublin: KUL.
Lampman, C., & Dowling-Guyer, S. (1995). Attitudes Toward Voluntary and Involuntary Childlessness. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 17, 213-222.
Łuczyńska, A., Kowalska, M., Mazurkiewicz, M., & Schwarzer, R. (2006). Berlińskie Skale Wsparcia Społecznego (BSSS). Wyniki wstępnych badań nad rzetelnością i trafnością [The Berlin Scales of Social Support (BSSS). Results of preliminary research of their reliability and validity]. Studia Psychologiczne, 44, 17-27.
Ogryzko-Wiewiórkowska, M. (1994). Rodzina a śmierć [Family and death]. Lublin: Wydawnictwo UMCS.
Pawlicka, P., Chrzan-Dętkoś, M., & Lutkiewicz, K. (2013). Prężność psychiczna przyszłych matek oraz kolejność ciąży jako moderatory budowania więzi z nienarodzonym jeszcze dzieckiem [Psychological resilience and the number of previous pregnancies as moderators of building a bond with an unborn child]. Family Forum, 3, 139-152.
Provine, R. R. (1993). Prenatal behawior development. Ontogenetic adaptations and non-linear processes. In: G. J. Savelsbergh (ed.), The development of coordination in infancy. Advances in psychology (pp. 203-236). Amsterdam: North-Holland/Elsevier Science Publishers.
Rutkowska, A., Kowalska, A., Makara-Studzińska, M., & Kwaśniewska, A. (2011). Analiza struktury osobowości u kobiet w pierwszej ciąży prawidłowej i wysokiego ryzyka [Analysis of the personality structure of women during a normal and high risk first pregnancy]. Current Problems of Psychiatry, 12, 420-427.
Sęk, H., & Cieślak, R. (2004). Wsparcie społeczne – sposoby definiowania, rodzaje i źródła wsparcia, wybrane koncepcje teoretyczne [Social support – definitions, types and sources of support, selected theoretical framings]. In: H. Sęk, & R. Cieślak (eds.), Wsparcie społeczne, stres i zdrowie [Social support, stress and health] (pp. 11-28). Warszawa: PWN.
Szymańska, J. (2013). Childless by choice in perception of young adults. Family Forum, 3, 79-95.
Tsartsara, E., & Johnson, M. P. (2006). The impact of miscarriage on women’s pregnancy-specific anxiety and feelings of prenatal maternal-fetal attachment during the course of a subsequent pregnancy: An exploratory follow-up study. Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynecology, 3, 173-182.
World Health Organization (1977). Manual of the international classification of diseases, injuries and causes of death (9 ed.). Genewa: WHO.