Unfulfilled parenthood in the eyes of young adults
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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.
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