A WRITTEN REPORT ON
THE DEVELOPMENTAL TASKS OF PREGNANCY
Pregnancy is often viewed as a developmental stage having its own
developmental tasks. Both the expectant mother and father deal with
significant changes and major psychosocial adjustment. The pregnant
woman prepares for her new role through accomplishment the
developmental tasks during this time to successfully incorporate the
maternal identity in her personality. Variations in the description of
these tasks exist among authors or books.
Four Major Developmental Tasks of Pregnancy
According to Rubin (1984)
1. Safe Passage
Seeking safe passage for herself and her child through
pregnancy, labor, and delivery. The goal is to achieve a healthy
pregnancy and an intact newborn with no detrimental effects to the
First trimester: The pregnant woman concentrates on her own
well being and her pregnancy. She is concerned with what she eats
Second trimester: Fears about the baby and delivery appear. The
pregnant woman is very aware of her responsibilities to protect the
fetus and does this by adhering to different aspects of her prenatal
Third trimester: The pregnant woman’s thoughts shift to mother
and baby as a couple. She becomes increasingly uncomfortable and
looks forward to delivery for relief. She will seek out role models
and expert advice on the best way to proceed through the
pregnancy and delivery and on parenting.
2. Acceptance by Others
Ensuring the acceptance by significant persons in her family
and secondary groups of the child she bears. Rubin believes that
this task is one of the most critical tasks for the pregnant woman.
Relationships have to be adjusted and redefined in the family in
order to create a place for the new baby. The mother also has to
create a new identity for herself and build this identity into her life.
Throughout the pregnancy, her family and especially her partner
become the motivational force behind her desire to become
successful as a mother. To succeed, the mother becomes aware of
the sacrifices that will be made. If she has other children, she will
have to assist them in adapting to the growing family.
Nursing Consideration: Listen to woman’s concerns and offer
assistance when applicable, in a non-judgmental manner.
3. Binding in to the Child
Binding-in to her unknown baby refers to establishment of a
bond between mother and baby.
First trimester: The woman focuses on herself and maintaining
Second trimester: Once fetal movement is felt, the fetus becomes
real and she begins to feel there’s a significance in working to meet
the challenges of becoming a mother. The fetus becomes an
independent person and all of the mother’s being is directed toward
the newborn’s safe arrival.
4. Giving of Oneself
Learning to give of herself. Pregnancy creates physical
changes as well as lifestyle changes. This prepares the mother for
learning to put baby's needs above her own. The communication of
appreciative approval from the partner, family and friends help the
woman to endure the changes and discomforts of the pregnant
Nursing Consideration: Answer questions and provide guidance
to reinforce the importance of the sacrifices that must be made to
achieve a successful pregnancy and healthy family.
Psychological Adaptation to Pregnancy: Developmental Tasks
These tasks are met in order; however, rate at which they are met
1st trimester: Pregnancy Validation- Accepting the pregnancy
Even when the pregnancy is planned, there are normal feelings
of ambivalence and disbelief about the pregnancy. Many women
become introspective or have mood swings cause by hormone
2nd trimester: Fetal Embodiment- Accepting the baby
This occurs as the mother incorporates the growing fetus into
her body image. The physical changes she is experiencing, especially
the growing uterus, help her meet this task. Self-involvement,
depression, or regressive behavior may be signs of difficulty in
meeting this task.
Fetal Distinction- Accepting the baby as a separate person
When fetal movement is felt, it becomes easier for the mother to
think of the fetus as a separate being. She may daydream about what
the baby will be like and think about the kind of mother shewants to
3rd trimester: Role Transition –Preparing for parenthood; Nesting
This includes parents exploring together the meaning of
fathering and mothering, learning parenting skills, the amazing skills
of newborn for interactions, and the physical maturing and behavioral
changes of the first 12 months of life.
At the end of pregnancy, many mothers experience a surge of
energy and to see to it that the entire household is organized for the
coming infant. This is called nesting.
White, Lois. Foundations of Nursing, 2nd ed., 2005
Littleton, L.,& Engebretson, J., Maternal, Neonatal, and Women's Health Nursing,