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These include:

being forced to secrecy because of a parent or partner’s expected response;

rage, rejection and control from a parent or partner who is totally unaccepting of what has happened;

fear of forced abortion or fear of abortion procedures;

intense brainwashing techniques about her own inadequacy; her ‘responsibility’ to the baby; the stable of ‘wonderful parents’ waiting to adopt; and her ‘duty to herself’ “to start her life anew” as if her pregnancy had never happened;

and specific crises.

An example: the young woman who had serially ‘escaped’ from a benign Salvation Army home to then be in a Presbyterian version: she had collected a variety of items for the baby and had gathered them in her room. On discovery of these a senior woman there had pulled them out and hostilely thrown them around - shouting that she would not be needing them.
The more common of these specific scenarios was rejection from the family home, often being sent to a different city or country town. A large number went into ‘Homes for expectant mothers’ run by the same organisations that were run by the adoption agencies. It often meant a complete breakdown in their relationship with a parent or parents. Many of these said to me that it was often associated with the parents having been openly judgmental about other girls who had become pregnant. Culturally this was still very common in the sixties and seventies.

All these factors during pregnancy lead up to ‘the state of mind on admission’

It was often their first experience of a hospital, let alone a labour ward. They have felt the fluttering first movements, wondered about the sex of the baby, got to know their baby’s habits, experienced times of vigorous motion during the swimming-pool stage, have been kicked in the bladder and latterly kneed in the ribs. Most girls have long-held fantasies of what their first born child will be like, and how it might be to have a real baby. This is it!
Some have surrendered to ‘the machine that takes babies’, this is just another step; others are plotting scenarios about getting away with the baby, yet others are planning assertively with assistance to resist any attempt to take their baby. But they all have preoccupation with the baby’s position in this; they care intensely and they want to know.


Dr Geoff Rickarby Consultant Psychiatrist
November 2014