Desiring a child and conceiving him is a decisive step in the life of every single woman. Each conception puts into action some unconscious mechanisms that are complex enough and such as to bring out a series of fears that are often plausible for the moment in which one lives. One of these is precisely the fear of giving birth to a sick child.
Pregnancy is not only a period of waiting and physiological transformation but also an event in which i processes of elaboration and re-elaboration of inner experiences, with regard to previous experiences and generational fantasies handed down from mother to daughter, they reappear even if not consciously.
Much of the experiences in terms of gestation, filiation and generational fantasies related to this period re-emerge unconsciously and with such force as to strongly condition the psychological state of the future mother.
This fear is not only linked to a purely realistic factor (genetically transmitted diseases, age of the pregnant woman, etc.) but mostly to events which involved family members and, more specifically, someone very close to the woman: a grandmother, an aunt, mother, brother or sister.
“The presence of a traumatic event such as a spontaneous or provoked abortion, a fetal death or an ectopic pregnancy, as well as pathologies prior to the event, can cause a disturbing effect” and give rise to a fear of a new event or circumstances that lead to endanger the life of the fetus (Ameruoso, 2015).
The painful episode can also be linked to experiences experienced by other women (the mother, grandmother or an aunt) within the same or extended family: “the death of a child” or the presence of an undiagnosed pathology during the gestation which then led to the birth of a handicapped child probably arouses fear in the pregnant woman of living the same experience (Ameruoso, 2015).
This is why, during the wait, fears emerge until they determine a state of anxiety that persists throughout the period, especially in the vicinity of the various ultrasound scans and checks that may or may not confirm the shealth status of the fetus, as well as at the time of delivery in which there will be full confirmation – or not – of the same.
During the pregnancy the woman is involved in an incessant work on the level of the fantasy and imagination (how will it be, who will it look like, I will have enough milk to feed it, it will eat, it will be fine). This process generates continuous thoughts that place her in front of various questions about the condition that she herself is experiencing but also – and above all – about the health of the baby.
Initially, that is, in the former three to four months from conception, the presence of the embryo will not be significantly perceptible except through a series of annoyances – for those who feel them – such as nausea, vomiting, incessant need to go to the toilet, hunger pangs or, on the contrary, lack of appetite. Subsequently its presence will be more evident since the body will begin to change in a visible way and because its movements in the uterus will be more tangible.
It is therefore during the first period that fears tend to take shape generated by a thousand fantasies that they become anxieties, worries and alarmisms.
“Will my baby be healthy? Will there be complications during childbirth?” “Will he be a carrier of genetic diseases?”
Well, all this is extremely natural because, with conception, particular attention is paid to a period of life (pregnancy) and to a creature, vulnerable, small and in some cases fragile (especially if it is born prematurely) and therefore to be protected. It is clear that the concern it is manifest towards those who are defenseless and cannot survive except through those who take care of them, but if this restlessness becomes exaggerated, then it is necessary to deepen the most intimate aspects of the pregnant woman’s psychology.
When such ideas become obsessive, manifestations of unconscious aspects which concern a deeper experience of the responsible pregnant woman both in “biological” and “moral” terms: childbirth makes visible and manifests one’s own inner image: a monster is the expression of an unacceptable, bad inner image while a disabled child condemns to absolute dependence.
The fetus, at a phantasmatic level, thus becomes the “bearer” of an archaic, deep internal fantasy that can be revealed through childbirth. It is possible that the anxious symptomatology with obsessive traitso it may arise in the first place not aware of the fact that pregnancy and motherhood are studded with anxieties related not only to one’s own psychophysical identity but also to the physical integrity of the child and that the gestational period, as well as motherhood, inevitably leads to a long period of dependence between mother and child.
Ameruoso E., 2015, Desire parenthood. The world internalized in infertility disorder. Psiconline editions