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Parents' Experience of Time Distortion Following Diagnosis of a Serious or Lethal Fetal Anomaly

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PURPOSE: To explore the experience of couples who continued pregnancy following a diagnosis of serious or lethal fetal anomaly.

STUDY DESIGN: Thirty-one male and female participants were recruited from a high-risk maternal– fetal medicine clinic in Washington State. Data were collected using in-depth interviews during pregnancy and after the birth of their baby. Transcribed interviews were thematically analyzed through the phenomenological lens of Merleau-Ponty.

FINDINGS: Participants described how time became reconfigured and reconstituted as they tried to compress a lifetime of love for their future child into a limited period. Participants' concepts of time became distorted and were related to their perceptual lived experience rather than the schedule-filled, regimented, linear clock time that governed the health professionals.

CONCLUSION: Living in distorted time may be a mechanism parents use to cope with overwhelming and disorienting feelings when their unborn baby is diagnosed with a fetal anomaly.
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Keywords: FETAL ANOMALY; LIVED EXPERIENCE; MERLEAU-PONTY; PHENOMENOLOGY; PREGNANCY; TIME DISTORTION

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2012-12-01

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  • The International Journal of Childbirth is a peer-reviewed, quarterly journal publishing original research, reviews, and case studies concerned with the practice of midwifery, women's health, prenatal care, and the birth process. The journal encourages the exploration of the complex and contextual issues surrounding childbirth provision and outcomes and invites manuscripts from a wide range of clinical, theoretical, political, methodological, psychological, public health, policy, and multicultural and interdisciplinary perspectives.
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