Anxiety and the Antenatal Clinic
: Towards a psycho-ethnography of women and early pregnancy.

Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Science


The antenatal period can be a time of great joy for new mothers, but can also be a time of high anxiety due to the complications which may arise during pregnancy. One such pregnancy complication is a growth restricted foetus resulting in a small for gestational age baby, or in extreme cases, a stillborn child. The United Kingdom has alarming rates of stillbirth compared to other high-income settings, and London has higher than national average rates. This research presents ethnographic observations of antenatal settings at four London NHS hospital Trusts, as well as ethnographic interview data with women who had been identified as having a small for gestational age foetus. Data from both showed that the space in which antenatal care was provided and less conflictual interactions with or between staff could be anxiety provoking. Furthermore, the seemingly endless waiting women experienced whilst receiving care and the often deemed unnecessary of the medicalisation of their pregnancies also were offered as examples as sources for anxiety. The findings of this study further suggest that in women with pregnancy complications, these anxieties were amplified. This work, therefore, contributes to a small, but growing body of literature into antenatal anxiety, provides novel insight into women diagnosed with small for gestational age foetus, and provides suggestions for how to improve antenatal care, reduce anxieties associated with pregnancy, and ultimately improve the conditions in which women’s mental health enacts at this time, place, and point in their lifecourse.
Date of Award11 Dec 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Brunel University London
SupervisorIsak Niehaus (Supervisor)

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