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Research Programmes

Early Pregnancy  - Part One : Part Two : Part Three : Part Four
Repetitive Patterns

Why do girls ‘repeat’ their pregnancy experiences? Girls with multiple relationships can progress from one relationship to another and repeat the experience without seeming to ‘learn’ from the previous situation.

If bringing up a child is hard and girls are just coping with a baby - or two, or three - why have another? Why repeat the experience? - particularly if it is not an entirely ‘wanted’ event. It is interesting to look at this repetition in terms of failure to ‘work through’ a painful experience. The girl enters into - ‘falls into’ - the next scenario while she is still reeling from the first. She has no time in which to ‘lick her wounds’, take in the experience, learn from it and so modify her future reactions. 

Recovery from trauma  

In general a traumatic event is followed by a reaction which gradually dampens with the passage of time and settles in resolution. That initial impact could be a conception, a pregnancy, childbirth, or a partner leaving


Working Through

Let us consider the stages of ‘recovery’ from such a ‘trauma’. The initial strong reaction - the ‘outcry’ - is followed by a period of denial when we don’t really want to deal with the situation and we would rather it ‘went away’. As the denial period progresses, the ‘victim’ is confronted by reminders which nudge reality back into the scene ... intrusive thoughts and memories of what has really happened stop us from continuing in the denial process. Constant reminders and confrontation of denial allow a period of ‘working through’ to be entered into when we can come to terms with what has happened and this results in completion and acceptance of our situation. It is only by working through all these stages and arriving at understanding, accepting and fully realising our situation that we can stop it happening again.

Progression of Recovery Process after Traumatic Event 


A girl who becomes pregnant again and again is unable to process the experience and to work through to a completion. She may not get time to deal with one stage and move on to the next before another ‘trauma’ raises it’s head. Any of such influences will arrest the recovery process and in fact send her ‘back to square one’. Each time she is sent back to ‘Go’ she will find it that much harder to stay on the path and will experience repeated re-experiences of the same harmful route - she is as if trapped in a mad game of ‘Monopoly’ never able to throw the right dice to get her ‘out of jail’.

Pregnancy as a Maturation Experience.

The pregnant girl can identify with the foetus and concretise her experience of the ‘inner child’ in her developing baby; this allows her another chance to be ‘loved this time’ by the ‘ideal’ mother There are situations where pregnancy does seem to afford an opportunity for ‘psychic growth’ maturation and personal development

Long Terms Study 15+ years

Repeat Pregnancies - Child bearing patterns

There do seem to be three sub-populations with regard to pregnancy patterns :-

1) Single pregnancies - girls who have one pregnancy only and continue like this throughout.

2) Constant repeaters - a group who maintain a high level of repeat pregnancy throughout

3) Late repeaters - girls who have one pregnancy as a schoolgirl then do not have repeat pregnancy until they enter a second later stage of childbearing (adult childbearing stage)

Patterns of Relationships

50% of girls had only one significant relationship in their lives


Patterns of relationships accorded with the child bearing pattern - constant repeaters tending to have multiple relationships but in a serial monogamy pattern. Those of us still thinking in the ‘promiscuity’ mode will be surprised to hear that in fact fifteen years later over a third of the girls (39%) have only ever had one boyfriend. For a further 12% the ‘rescuing’ boy who entered their lives at an early stage during pregnancy or during the first few months of the first baby’s life and became an ‘early replacement father’ was the only other man on the scene .... so a staggering 50% of the girls only had one significant relationship in their lives. 

The Care System

Girls in the care system had more pregnancies. 

Their boyfriends stayed around for shorter periods.

Children in Care

Girls who had been in care had more of their children removed and fared worse on every parameter researched

Children – Problems in Care

Their children had more problems at five, ten and fifteen years 

Lack of father figure

First born males affected most

It is accepted that girls may be predisposed to getting pregnant because they come from single parent families, they don’t have a father and so they need to go out and find a boy because they don’t know how to relate to men, there is an absence of a father figure in their lives. What the fifteen year study showed was how important this absence of father was, especially to the first born male children. A perpetuating negative spiral of deprivation and misery.

A Positive Outcome

Armed with accurate information from research and longitudinal studies we can plan effective intervention and support – thus we can help bring about positive outcomes – like Patrice who fifteen years on is a solicitor and her daughter won a scholarship to a girl’s public school.