Antenatal needs of couples following fertility treatment: a qualitative study in primary care

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background It is known that couples may experience emotional distress while undergoing infertility treatment, but less is known about their experience of pregnancy following successful conception. Typically, couples are discharged from the fertility clinic to receive standard antenatal care. Recent research has raised questions about whether this care adequately meets their needs.

Aim To explore the antenatal experiences of females and males who have successfully conceived through infertility treatment.

Design and setting An exploratory qualitative approach was undertaken, using individual, in-depth interviews with females and males who had successfully undergone infertility treatment in one of three fertility clinics in the south of England.

Method Twenty participants were interviewed (12 females and eight male partners) when their pregnancy had reached 28 weeks’ gestation. Participants were asked about their experiences of infertility treatment, pregnancy, and antenatal care. Interviews were audiorecorded, transcribed, and analysed thematically.

Results Analysis of the interviews suggested females and males experienced a ‘gap’ in their care, in terms of time and intensity, when discharged from the fertility clinic to standard antenatal care. This gap, combined with their previous experience of infertility treatment, heightened their fear of pregnancy loss and increased their need for support from their health professionals. Participants’ previous experience of infertility treatment also appeared to deter them from preparing for the birth and parenthood, and disclosing negative feelings to others about the pregnancy.

Conclusion Females and males who have successfully undergone infertility treatment may require additional support in primary care to address anxiety during pregnancy, enable disclosure of negative feelings, and to help them prepare for childbirth and parenthood.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e570-e577
Number of pages7
JournalBritish Journal of General Practice
Issue number638
Early online date31 Aug 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2015

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