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Parenting After Infertility: Issues for Families and Infants

McGrath, Jacqueline M. PhD, RN, FNAP, FAAN; Samra, Haifa A. PhD, RN; Zukowsky, Ksenia PhD, RN, NNP-BC; Baker, Brenda MN, RNC, CNS

MCN, The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing: May-June 2010 - Volume 35 - Issue 3 - p 156–164
doi: 10.1097/NMC.0b013e3181d7657d

This article reviews the research related to parenting after assisted reproduction and uses that research to discuss clinical implications for nurses who work to support these families and the development of their children. The worldwide diagnosis of infertility continues to rise and now hovers near 20%. The increased availability and success of assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) provides a potential option for infertile families to conceive and begin a family, but as nurses know, infertility treatments are not easy to tolerate, are time-consuming, physically taxing, and expensive. In addition, a positive outcome is far from guaranteed. Even when infertile couples successfully give birth, they can continue to struggle with the psychological aspects of infertility and the ongoing care of a child who may be premature, low birth weight, or afflicted with another high-risk condition such as long-term developmental or behavioral problems. Unfortunately, the psychological needs of the couple and the family may not be addressed during ART treatment or after the birth of a child. Parenting is a challenging life task; parenting when the partners may have to work through the psychological aspects of infertility and the care of a high-risk child is even more complex and may have long-lasting effects on the partners as well as their children.

Once the infertility treatments have been successful, what challenges do the new parents face?

Jacqueline M. McGrath is an Associate Professor, Virginia Commonwealth University, School of Nursing, Richmond, VA. She can be reached via e-mail at

Haifa A. Samra is an Assistant Professor, South Dakota State University, College of Nursing, Brookings, SD

Ksenia Zukowsky, is an Associate Professor, Thomas Jefferson University, Jefferson School of Nursing, Philadelphia, PA

Brenda Baker, is an Performance Improvement Coordinator, VCU Health System and a Doctoral Student, Virginia Commonwealth University, School of Nursing, Richmond, VA

The authors have disclosed that there are no financial relationships related to this article.

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.