'Om langs die pad te kraam': A feminist psychoanalytic perspective on undisclosed pregnancy
This article focuses on the phenomenon of pregnant women not acknowledging their pregnancies. Such women typically enter the health care system at a late stage and thus get little or no prenatal care. The phenomenon of undisclosed pregnancy is explored by focusing on two case studies of pregnant research participants in a project concerned with the psychological distress of female farm workers in the Western Cape. These two pregnant women were interviewed for a total of ten hours about topics such as psychological distress and well-being, coping and resilience, family and personal history, physical health, interpersonal relationships, reproductive issues (specifically pregnancy and motherhood), and sexuality and body, but did not reveal to their interviewers that they were pregnant. Follow-up interviews were conducted with the participants In an attempt to form a psychological understanding of their failure to disclose their pregnancies during the interviews. In the follow-up interviews, it became clear that the participants also did not reveal that they were pregnant to their families, their friends, their employers, or any health care workers, The interview data suggested that these two participants construed pregnancy as something to feel guilty, ashamed, and anxious about. Their conscious or unconscious response to this material bodily event was to not recognise or acknowledge it, neither to others nor to themselves. This finding is analysed in the context of the literature concerning the subjective experience of and psychological responses to pregnancy, with specific reference to reports of 'motivated unawareness' or 'denial of pregnancy' in the pregnancy literature. The question of how to understand the participants' experiences and response to pregnancy is then analysed within a postmodern paradigm, using a feminist psychoanalytic perspective. © Psychological Society of South Africa. All rights reserved.