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Concealed pregnancy and newborn abandonment: a 21st century problem


Concealed pregnancy is as much an issue today as it was 50 years ago. In the last year a number of cases of newborn abandonment, where the infants have been found either alive or dead, have occurred in the UK and Ireland. Concealed pregnancy remains a contemporary problem in many countries, even in multicultural pluralist societies. Concealed pregnancy is a complex phenomenon, where a woman aware of her pregnancy hides it from her partner, family, friends and social network. The psychological processes involved are poorly understood and it is often confused with denied pregnancy. The literature relating to both concealed pregnancy and abandonment is extremely limited. Some of the literature published in relation to concealed pregnancy is pathologising in nature and links it to mental illness. The literature does not support the hypothesis that mental illness causes concealed pregnancy.

Learning aims and objectives

This resource aims to provide you with:

  • Evidence to underpin your practice when caring for women who experience a concealed pregnancy
  • An understanding of the consequences of concealed pregnancy for both women and children
  • An understanding of the implications of concealed pregnancy for midwives

Keywords and linking topics

Concealed pregnancy, newborn abandonment, trauma, pregnancy

Activities and questions at the end of this resource will enable you to assess your knowledge and reflect on how you can incorporate it into your own practice. In the following questions, please select the answer that you believe to be correct. This will be marked and then you can move on to the next question. If you wish, at the end you can return for a further attempt at the questions.

Upon completion of the module, you will be able to download and save or print a certificate to include in your CPD/ revalidation portfolio.