First, women were interested in bodily changes and signs related to pregnancy, for example vaginal bleeding or bodily aches and pains. If bodily signs changed or suddenly ceased, women took to the Internet:. Does it mean that it [the pregnancy] has disappeared? And then I search for that. The women used the Internet to check the normality of their bodily sensations and eliminate concerns about potential signs of miscarriage.
Second, women sought information about how to calculate the due date and about the weekly development of the foetus:. There is a little description [at sundhed.
And third, the women were interested in different lifestyle concerns, particularly in what changes to make in their everyday lives in order to provide the best possible conditions for the child to be healthy and able:. I have also sought information on pregnancy and working night shifts. And aspirin and pregnancy. I'd been sitting at work eating liquorice and then it suddenly hit me: Wait, that might not be healthy!?
And then I immediately Googled it, and ended up at the Danish Health Department's homepage, which had an entire pamphlet about it. These quotes show how the women considered their everyday knowledge of night shifts, aspirin and liquorice to be suspended in the new context of the pregnancy. In this rechecking of lifestyle knowledge, the women relied primarily on the Internet.
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When searching for and assessing the quality of information online, the women generally discerned between factual information and experiential knowledge. For example, sources such as the Danish Health Department's homepage and sundhed. However, many women simultaneously sought experiential information and found both relief and entertainment in reading about other women's experiences:. For example, stomach aches. Then I just Google: pregnant, stomach ache. In early pregnancy, the Internet offered a community where women could engage in pregnancy talk, joys and worries with others in lieu of the family and friends to whom the pregnancy had not yet been revealed.
It's just all these common people, who are trying to be experts on something, and I really try to stay away from that. However, the majority of women stressed the importance of having access to both types of information and inspiration in early pregnancy, and stressed the importance of assessing information with some scepticism and common sense. Searching for information and advice was a pregnancy practice. The interviewed women enacted the early pregnancy through practices such as checking up on liquorice or knowing the foetal developments of their current gestational week.
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Well, for me actually it is mostly about the certainty in seeing that there is a baby in my belly and a heart that's beating… well… that is what it's mostly about for me. In a situation of no visible signs of pregnancy and often elusive bodily symptoms, the FTS promised visual certainty and a biomedical confirmation of pregnancy.
Additionally, the women looked forward to sharing the experience with the father:.
Frederik, my boyfriend, he finds it a bit difficult to relate to this whole thing. Where he also can see that there is something. Notably, eleven women out of 20 had already had one or more ultrasounds performed, either at the hospital or in private clinics. The two women in fertility treatment had scans to confirm the pregnancies.
However, even for women who had already seen the foetus, the FTS was reported to be special: it not only confirms the pregnancy and the health of the foetus, but also marks the transition into the second trimester and to the fully revealed pregnancy. After the FTS, the women expected and anticipated to publicly share the news of the pregnancy. Some had made arrangements for meeting parents or friends the following weekend and had selected situations in which they expected to share the news.
During interviews, it became apparent that the women perceived not only the FTS as a milestone, but the pregnancy as a series of milestones to be accomplished, from the stripes on the pregnancy test to the birth of a healthy child:. I actually kind of look forward to the FTS.
To get this pregnancy started, if you can say that […] because it's things like these you really associate with being pregnant, I think. In sum, the FTS represents a personal and social milestone; a step towards future parenthood and a procedure that adds social value to the pregnancy and the pregnant woman. The women appreciated that the FTS was optional, and that some women may decline to participate. It's really not something we have discussed. It's just something that I presumed we both wanted to do.
When asked whether they had considered how to respond to an abnormal screening result and diagnostic test, only one woman explicitly stated that she, due to religious convictions, would not terminate the pregnancy. Seven women explicitly stated that they would terminate:. If we find out that the child has Down's syndrome, then we will terminate. No doubt. Because I don't think… well, I don't think it's fair to….
Well, first of all it puts a lot of strain on the parents to have such a child, but also the child… it's not going to be a very easy life, is it? My cousin is handicapped and she is so dependent. I just don't think that I'd want to consciously create a life like hers. There are so few things she can do, she needs help and constant surveillance and I just don't want to purposely create that situation for someone.
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The women emphasized the strain of having a handicapped child, the burden on siblings and the worries and concerns of having a child that would not be able to care for itself even in adulthood. Some added that they had not experienced difficulties in getting pregnant and, thus, were confident that they could get pregnant again with a healthy foetus. Six of the interviewed women expected to terminate the pregnancy for the same reasons as mentioned above , but recognized that that they might feel differently in the actual situation:.
My boyfriend was very quick to say that if it has Down's then he wouldn't want it. If you sort of relate to the child? I don't know. These women emphasized that it is hard to predict how one will react in such an emotional situation and, thus, made room for potential reconsideration and decisional conflict.
Finally, six women had not thought about a potential abnormal result or discussed it with their partner:.
No, actually we haven't. If something comes up, then I think we will have to take it from there. These women explicitly stated that they did not want to worry about unpleasant scenarios that would most likely not happen. They deliberately postponed a decision until relevant, based on the hope and expectation that the foetus was healthy and the pregnancy was normal. Thus, the majority expected to terminate the pregnancy in the case of foetal diagnosis. However, they considered it a very small risk and stated that, overall, it did not influence their excitement and joy about the pregnancy, although several women mentioned that they would probably get nervous just prior to the FTS.
Well, I don't know, because I am very, very, very happily pregnant. But of course I also have some worries […] but I think that my happiness clearly overshadows my worries […]. Well actually I think that it is rather difficult to describe with a scale. Perhaps it would be better if you could bend the scale in the shape of a U, then I could be very worried AND very happy at the same time. A few women described themselves as more worried than happy, but hoping to eliminate some worries as the pregnancy developed and more milestones were achieved.
However, they expressed an understanding that certainty is always partial as other concerns about the continued health of the child would undoubtedly emerge throughout the pregnancy. Among the interviewed women, there was an overall approach to the pregnancy that nothing is certain and that there are no guarantees:. I just really want the FTS to be over. Not because lots of things can't happen later, but… it's just nice to know that you can cross Down's syndrome and those kinds of things off the list.
It's not like I'm thinking that just because everything looks fine at the FTS, that I will be completely convinced that everything else will also go well. The women did not expect the FTS to guarantee a healthy child and did not expect to leave their worries completely behind them following a normal FTS result. Rather, the continued intermingling of joy and worry, of uncertainty and reassurance was understood as integral to the pregnancy experience as a whole. Being worried and being happy are both ways of practising and engaging with the early pregnancy.
The women in this study were generally excited about their pregnancy.
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The results show that the higher risk of miscarriage in the first trimester was a main reason for not fully disclosing the pregnancy until after the end of the first trimester or the FTS. In this new context of pregnancy, the women felt that previous everyday knowledge could not necessarily be trusted, and thus, seeking information and advice was a common practice. The women discerned between factual information and experiential advice and used them for different ends. As one of several milestones in the pregnancy, the FTS was anticipated to mark a new and more certain phase in the pregnancy.
The majority were inclined to terminate the pregnancy in case of diagnosis of Down's syndrome, whereas the rest had deliberately postponed any decision making.