Impact on parenting & talking to children

The experience of IVF can have a long lasting effect on parenting. Here we discuss what people told us about how their treatment had affected their approach to being a parent. We also discuss people’s views on telling their children about how they were conceived.
Impact on parenting
People, who have gone through fertility treatment to conceive, sometimes felt that they approached their pregnancy differently (see ‘Being pregnant after fertility treatment’). Sometimes this sense of difference affected how they started out as parents.
Liz was anxious during her pregnancy and felt that she remained anxious during the first year of her son’s life, “The lovely experience of birth was tinged by worries, onward worries really, unfortunately because of the precious nature of the baby… So it was a bitter sweet sort of thing.” Martha’s second child was born after fertility treatment and she felt she had to, “work very hard not to overprotect him”. 
Talking to children about IVF
At some point parents need to decide what to say to their children about the IVF treatment. The parents we spoke to usually had quite young children, which meant any discussion needed to be in quite simple terms. Catherine had felt she was failing her son by not being able to have a sibling for him. She talked to him in simple terms about how they needed treatment to help them make a baby, but he misunderstood.
Talking to children about donor conception
Children who were conceived with donor gametes now have a legal right to know who the donor was. Frances conceived her twins with donor sperm. At the time of the interview they were nine years old. She had followed advice to tell them before puberty, and had told them a few months before the interview. They had taken it well. 
Walter and his wife have grown up children conceived with donor sperm. They told them from an early age which he believed was very important.

Last reviewed July 2017.


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