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The rise of non-traditional pregnancies through assisted reproductive technologies

02 February 2021
12 min read
Volume 29 · Issue 2

Abstract

This article explores how the development of assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs), arisen from in vitro fertilisation, have perpetuated an increase in non-traditional pregnancies (Franklin, 1997). This article discusses what this increase means for midwifery practices and what care midwives may need to consider for such pregnancies. The discussions in this article are based on triangulated findings from a three-phase research design. The research consisted of an online mixed-methods survey of 521 citizens of the UK, semi-structured interviews with experts and professionals who speak to the future of ARTs, and structured interviews with people who are affected by genetic conditions. Findings reveal that applications of ARTs are anticipated to continue to expand with the potential introduction of genome editing technologies to reproductive choices for the prevention of disease. Thus, this article concludes that because of this expansion, the rise of non-traditional pregnancies is likely to continue, and that midwives may benefit from considering the implications the rise could have for midwifery care.

In vitro fertilisation (IVF) is when an egg is fertilised by sperm outside the human body, usually in a culture dish (Franklin, 1997). This technique was developed by Sir Robert Geoffrey Edwards, a physiologist, and Dr Patrick Christopher Steptoe, an obstetrician and gynaecologist in the 1970s, as a means to treat female infertility (Mulkay, 1997). The first baby born as a result of IVF, Louise Brown, was delivered via a caesarean section in July 1978 at Oldham Hospital in Greater Manchester (Brown, 2018). Louise celebrated her 40th birthday in 2018, and has two sons conceived without the use of any assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs). In 2018, the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology ([ESHRE], 2018) reported that a global total of more than eight million babies had been born from IVF since the technology was first pioneered.

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