When Your Baby Won't Survive

When Your Baby Won't Survive

The anticipation of a new baby breathes excitement into a family. But for some parents, joy is replaced with heartache when they learn that their much-loved unborn child may not survive. In the blink of an eye, they are thrust into a world of overwhelming grief, fear and despair.

If this is where you find yourself, this series of articles was created for you. The information provided will address your fears and offer practical resources to assist you with making decisions.

A Fatal Diagnosis

You were there for a routine prenatal visit that turned into anything but routine. The doctor’s words were shocking and completely unexpected. "Your prenatal lab results are back, and they confirm that your baby has a serious medical condition. I’m sorry, but there is no hope for survival."

As you try to focus and listen to the doctor’s explanation, you cradle your arms around your unborn baby, praying that this is all just a bad dream. You ask again, "Are you sure?" Your doctor confirms the results and then explains, "You have a decision to make – a decision to continue or end the pregnancy."

A Difficult Decision

In less than an hour you have received devastating news, and now you face a critical decision. You may feel confused and overwhelmed, with a sense of urgency to settle the matter quickly.

Stop, take a deep breath and remember: Time is on your side. Give yourself a chance to digest the news and consider all your options. Before making a decision, you may request that your health-care professional:

  • Provide you with additional information about the diagnosis.
  • Refer you to a perinatologist who is a maternal-fetal specialist.
  • Provide you with a list of supportive services.

Your health-care professional may use other terms to describe termination of the pregnancy, such as abortion, early induction of labor or voluntary interruption. Ask your doctor to explain what procedure would be used in your case, and how it would be done.

The emotional pain and turmoil of a lethal prenatal diagnosis is very real, and it’s only natural for everyone to want to "make it better." Many feel that ending the pregnancy is the best solution mentally and emotionally for the mom. However, research reveals just the opposite: Termination of a pregnancy in light of a lethal diagnosis can carry long-term psychological consequences and an increased risk of severe and complicated grieving.

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