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The Long-Term Impact of Experiences During Pregnancy

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a blog by Ellen Glazer, November 11, 2010

There has been so much in the news recently about Annie Murphy Paul’s book "Origins," a look at how the nine months before birth shape the rest of a child's life — the long-term impact of pregnancy on health and mental health.

The book is undoubtedly causing anxiety for some women who are worried and feeling guilty about what they did or did not eat during pregnancy. But I feel that the book has a very positive message for one group of women that I am particularly interested in: women who become moms through egg donation. The book confirms what many moms through egg donation have known and felt for a long time: that the experiences of the mother during pregnancy have an important and durable influence on a person’s well-being.

I see many women considering egg donation. Early on in their decision-making process, many are burdened by questions and fears. Among their concerns is what I call the “not mine” worry — that they won’t feel that the baby is “really” theirs. Many voice concerns that during pregnancy they will feel like they are carrying “someone else’s baby.”

Then pregnancy comes along and feelings change. Not always immediately. Not always for everyone. However, most women pregnant through egg donation describe an experience of increasing “mineness.”

Around week 14 or 15 of their pregnancy, any questions they had about the baby being “theirs” evaporate.

I am grateful to Murphy Paul for offering up a book that should reaffirm this feeling. After all, "Origins" repeatedly tells readers that what a pregnant woman eats and drinks, feels, hears and sees all helps shape her baby.

That’s right — her baby.

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