All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Linda Moneyham

Advisory Committee Members

Giancarlo Mari

Ashley Hodges

Gwendolyn Childs

Christina Underhill

Bobby Bellflower

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) School of Nursing


THE EXPERIENCE OF THE EXPECTANT MOTHER FOLLWING A DIAGNOSIS OF A FETAL ANOMALY JANET ADAMS TUCKER Introduction: The experience of pregnancy complicated by a fetal anomaly diagnosis is comprised of many concepts: uncertainty, information needs, stress and anxiety, waiting, decision-making dilemmas, isolation, fragmented health care, multiple losses and grief, foreknowledge, acceptance and adaptation. There is great variance in what is understood about each concept. The purpose of this study was to explore uncertainty and waiting among expectant mothers from the time period of a prenatal diagnosis of a fetal anomaly through the post-partum period. Methods: A descriptive phenomenological approach was used to answer the research question: What is the lived experience of uncertainty and waiting for expectant mothers during a pregnancy and the postpartum period complicated by a diagnosis of a fetal anomaly? Ten mothers participated in prenatal interviews and eight mothers participated in postpartum interviews. Data were analyzed using the Giorgi method of phenomenological analysis. Results: Semi-structured interviews revealed an overarching theme of a Pregnancy Forever Changed. Three themes emerged from the prenatal interviews through content analysis: (1) News of a Diagnosis – No Going Back; (2) A Mother’s Response – Managing Information; and (3) Words from Others Matter. With the postpartum interviews, two themes evolved: (1) The Journey Continues – Echoing Past Concerns; and (2) Not The Journey We Planned. Conclusions: The findings from this study explored the multidimensional nature and complexity of the phenomenon of mothers experiencing a fetal anomaly diagnosis. The findings add to the literature by identifying the high information needs of this population and highlighting the importance of the interactions with HCPs throughout pregnancy and the postpartum period. Their vivid descriptions of the distressing aspect of receiving the news of fetal anomaly diagnosis included anxiety, worry, uncertainty, and loss add to the understanding of how this experience differs from uncomplicated pregnancies. The distress the majority of the mothers experienced in disclosing the news of the fetal anomaly diagnosis has not been a primary finding in the literature. Not only was it unexpected that the majority of the mothers discussed disclosure, but it continued into the postpartum period and was accompanied by a great deal of distress. Keywords: Fetal anomaly, disclosure, uncertainty, information needs, stress and anxiety, waiting

Included in

Nursing Commons



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