Weekly reading: The Tentative Pregnancy

22 Sep

Barbara Katz Rothman’s The Tentative Pregnancy: How Amniocentesis Changes the Experience of Motherhood is about women’s experiences with prenatal diagnosis.

Published in 1986 (with a new introduction and appendices in the 1993 edition), this work was an early exploration of the ways in which the technology of amniocentesis alters women’s experience of pregnancy.  “The possibility of a bad diagnosis,” Rothman writes, “casts its shadow over the early months and the flow of time in pregnancy itself is changed with mid-pregnancy diagnosis.  Most important, the mother’s developing relationship with her fetus is affected by the new technology of reproduction.”

The author bases the work on interviews with mothers, recipients of genetic counseling and genetic counselors.

Topics include the scope and ambiguity of prenatal diagnoses; the risks and benefits of amniocentesis, and its emotional consequences.  The author includes a practical appendix, “Guidelines for Personal Decision-Making,” directed to women who are currently pregnant.


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