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Notman, M.T. Lester, E.P. (1988). Pregnancy: Theoretical Considerations. Psychoanal. Inq., 8(2):139-159.

(1988). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 8(2):139-159

Pregnancy: Theoretical Considerations

Malkah T. Notman, M.D. and Eva P. Lester, M.D.

For a woman, knowing that she is capable of bearing children has been critical in the development of her sense of femininity, gender identity, and self-esteem, even if as an adult she chooses not to actually have children. The awareness of her reproductive potential is part of her self-image.

The social changes of the past two decades have brought with them shifts in family patterns and lifestyles. With more effective control of contraception possible, and many more women working, women have been seeking fulfillment in terms other than a career of motherhood. Having a baby, although a pivotal event psychologically and physically, may not provide the only path to attain status as an adult woman. The implications of these changes for the development of those women who do not have children are now being explored by those concerned with adult development.

Many women have been delaying pregnancy, thus becoming mothers at a time when individuation, ego development, and consolidation of self have progressed to a level different from that of a younger women. This trend raises questions about the effects of the life stage of the individual on the significance and course of the pregnancy.

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