ABSTRACT: It has long been accepted that there is a developmental process women progress through during pregnancy as they take on the parenting role. This paper develops a theory of the unborn baby's role during the prenatal period as an active instigator in this parenting role. Referring to the work of Arnold Gesell and adapting it to the prenatal period, the author theorizes that the unborn baby's growth and development drives the developmental process of the parenting role prenatally. Pregnancy is viewed as the beginning of a lifelong process and a unique time when parents are especially open to exploring their changing roles with the baby as an equal contributor.
Belsky, J. (1985). Experimenting with the family in the newborn period. Child Development 56, 407-414.
Belsky, J. and Tolan, W. (1981). The infant as producer of his development: an ecological analysis. In: Lerner, R., Busch, M. and Rossnagel (Eds.). The child as producer of its own development: A life span perspective. New York: Academic Press.
Brazelton, T.B. (1979). Behavioral competence of the newborn infant. Seminars in Perinatology 3, 35-44.
Cohen, R.L. (1979). Maladaptation to pregnancy. Seminars in Perinatology 3, 15-24.
Eisenburg (1976). Auditory competence in early life. Baltimore; University Park Press.
Galinsky, E. (1987). Between generations: The six stages of parenthood New York: New York Times Books.
Gesell, A., Ilg, F., Ames, L. (1974). Infant and child in the culture of today. New York: Harper and Row.
Greenspan, S. and Porges, S.W. (1984). Psychopathology in infancy and early childhood: Clinical perspectives on the organization of sensory and affective-thematic experience. Child Development 55, 49-70.
Graves, Pirkko (1989). The functioning fetus. In: The Course of Life. Editors Stanley Greenspan and G. Pollack, 433-465.
Leifer, M. (1977). Psychological changes in pregnancy. Genetic Psychology Monographs 77, 55-96.
Nugent, J. Kevin and T. Berry Brazelton (1989). Preventive intervention with infants and families: The NBAS model. Infant Mental Health Journal 10, No. 2.
O'Leary, J.M., Parker, Lynnda and Marci Gross (1991). Pregnancy after loss: The needs of women in a new pregnancy. Submitted for publication.
Rubin, R. (1967). Attainment of the maternal role: Part 1, Process. Nursing Research 16, 237-245.
Uddenberg, N. (1974). Reproductive adaptation in mother and daughter. ACTA Psychiatrica Scandinavia (Suppl. 254), 5-115.
Joann M. CLeary, B.E.S., M.P.H., M.S.
Ms. O'Leary is a Parent-Infant Clinical Specialist in the Perinatal Center of Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She has worked in this setting for the last ten years in the role of clinical specialist and former Director of the Childbirth Education Program. She co-facilitates a support group for families experiencing a pregnancy after a perinatal loss. Prior to her work at the hospital she was involved as a teacher in Preschool Special Education, specializing in infant development. She undertook research in Belfast, Northern Ireland on first-time parents and administered the Brazelton Neonatal Assessment Intervention to their babies. She teaches as an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Special Education at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. Address correspondence to the author at Abbott Northwestern Hospital, 800 East 28 Street at Chicago Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55407-3799.