Use of prenatal testing, emotional attachment to the fetus and fetal health locus of control
This study examines the relationship between maternal emotional attachment to the fetus, beliefs about fetal health locus of control, and use of prenatal testing (i.e., amniocentesis and maternal serum screening). To date, no research has directly addressed the link between these psychosocial variables and prenatal testing uptake. Ninety-one pregnant women at risk for fetal abnormalities (i.e., 35 years of age or older) participated in the study, of whom 35 had no testing, 27 had serum screening, and 29 had amniocentesis in their current pregnancy. Results of a hierarchical multiple regression partially supported the hypothesis that internal and powerful others Fetal Health Locus of Control (Labs & Wurtele, 1986) and prenatal testing status would be predictive of attachment (Prenatal Attachment Inventory; Muller, 1993) over and above the effects of gestational age, maternal age and attitude toward abortion. Fetal Health Locus of Control beliefs regarding one’s own role (FHLC-I) in determining the health of one’s fetus were found to be predictive of prenatal attachment. Results failed to support the hypothesis that the role of health professionals (FHLC-P) would be predictive of prenatal attachment. As predicted, women who had not used prenatal testing or who underwent amniocentesis tended to have stronger prenatal attachment than those who underwent serum screening only. Results supported the hypotheses that stronger attachment to the fetus would be positively correlated with both FHLC-I and FHLC-P scores. Women who had no testing were found to hold less favourable attitudes toward abortion and rate their religious as stronger than those who had amniocentesis. Emotional attachment to the fetus was stronger among women who had previous miscarriages than those who had not, but did not differ between women who had a previous abortion and those who had not.
Prenatal Attachment, Prenatal Bonding, Prenatal Testing, Fetal Health Locus of Control
Master of Arts (M.A.)