Experiences and expectations in the first trimester of pregnancy: a qualitative study
BACKGROUND: A dominant context for pregnant women in the Western world is medical technologies such as ultrasound and screening. It has been argued that such technologies may result in tentative pregnancies, which may be particularly prominent in the first trimester. However, little is known about how women experience early pregnancy. OBJECTIVE: To explore the everyday experiences and expectations of first trimester pregnant women in a medicalized context of comprehensive and routine prenatal screening. DESIGN: Qualitative, semi-structured interviews analysed using thematic analysis. SETTING: Between May 2015 and January 2016, participants were recruited from two general practices and one obstetric ultrasound unit in Aarhus, Denmark. PARTICIPANTS: Twenty, first trimester pregnant women (15 primiparae, five multiparae) aged 21-39 years. RESULTS: Early pregnancy is often kept secret in the first trimester due to a higher risk of miscarriage. However, the pregnancy is very real in the lives of the pregnant women who make it meaningful through practices of information seeking, listening to the body and anticipating the different milestones in pregnancy. First trimester screening represents one such milestone that is expected to mark a new and more certain phase in the pregnancy. A majority expects to terminate following a prenatal diagnosis, but this does not seem to influence their engagement with the pregnancy. CONCLUSIONS: The pregnant women use medical technologies to mark a milestone in pregnancy but do not expect all concerns to disappear upon a normal screening result. The majority of women acknowledge that pregnancy involves simultaneous feelings of happiness and worry.