Process and Choice

Parenthood as an Option

What are the pros and cons of being parents or remaining child-free?

Becoming Pregnant

What are some of the causes of male and female infertility?

The Experience of Pregnancy

How does pregnancy affect sexuality?

A Healthy Pregnancy

How does the fetus change in each trimester of pregnancy?

What are the current artificial reproductive technologies? How do they work?

Spontaneous and Elective Abortion

How can a miscarriage affect a woman and couple emotionally?

What factors most influence a country’s abortion rate? What procedures are used for abortion?

How have laws regarding abortion changed since Roe v. Wade?

What factors can harm the fetus during pregnancy?


What occurs in each of the three stages of childbirth?

After Childbirth

What are advantages and disadvantages of breast-feeding?

What criteria should a couple use to decide when to resume intercourse?

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I’ve been an "expectant" father twice, but my role was drastically different the second time because of changes in obstetrical practices. During my first child’s birth, it was the classic scene of Dad pacing the waiting room floor while my wife was in the delivery room. In my second marriage, the pregnancy was "our pregnancy" from the beginning. I went to doctor’s appointments and saw our baby’s ultrasound pictures. Seeing his heart beat so early in the pregnancy gave me a feeling of connection right from the start. We attended prepared childbirth classes together, and I was there from start to finish during labor and when she delivered our baby. I went with him to the nursery for all the weighing, measur­ing, and cleaning, then brought him back to his mother in the birthing suite. I wish I’d had those experiences with my first child’s birth. (Authors’ files)

One of the most important decisions we will probably make in our lifetime is whether to become a parent. In this chapter we address the pros and cons of parenthood. We also discuss the processes of conception, pregnancy, and birth and some of the emo­tions that accompany them from the viewpoints of the parents. We encourage peo­ple who desire further information to seek more extensive references or to consult a health-care practitioner. As a starting point, we look at the option of parenthood and some of the alternatives that are available for people who want to become parents.