Ending a pregnancy for fetal abnormality

Deciding whether to have another baby

For many parents who have ended a pregnancy for fetal abnormality, deciding whether or not to have another baby may not be easy or straightforward. Some couples will know from genetic counselling that they carry a risk of having another baby with a fetal abnormality and yet still want to go ahead, whereas others who have been told they have very little to worry about may be reluctant to try again. 

Some women were determined to have another baby, whether or not they faced a greater risk than usual of having a baby with problems. Several described feeling 'consumed' by wanting another baby, and said they knew instinctively that they needed to have another child. Some felt at the time that being pregnant again would make them feel better about the baby they had lost, even though they knew that one baby could never really 'replace' another. Although several women said that once they were pregnant again they felt sure that the baby would be fine and had enjoyed the pregnancy.

Other women felt they needed time to get over the termination before deciding whether they could cope with another pregnancy - several disagreed with the widely held assumption that having another baby as soon as possible was the best way to 'get over' their loss. Some people had found the termination so upsetting that they simply didn't want to go through pregnancy again. Others had wanted another baby but had found, for whatever reason, that they couldn't.  Several women said they had struggled to accept that they would probably never have another child. 

Several women who had been through two or more terminations for fetal abnormality said they were still considering trying to have another baby though they realised that others, including their partners, couldn't understand their persistence. 

Most women who had gone ahead with another pregnancy had felt anxious about the baby until s/he was born. Some said they had dreaded each scan and test, and several declined the amnio or CVS because they didn't want to risk losing the next baby, but others wanted every test possible.

Many women valued seeing the same health professionals throughout the pregnancy and appreciated their support, however despite this extra care, several women still felt extremely anxious. Several women realised with hindsight that they hadn't enjoyed subsequent pregnancies as much as they felt they would have liked. One woman said she hadn't got as attached to the baby during her next pregnancy because she worried that something would go wrong. 

When another baby is born

Most women described how happy and relieved they felt once they had given birth and were holding a healthy baby in their arms. But for some women the strain of the pregnancy was such that they had decided not to go through pregnancy again. 

Everyone who had been able to have another baby since the termination said the baby had brought them great happiness and how lucky they felt to have another baby. However several other women said that having a new baby had renewed their feelings of sadness about the baby who died. 

Having another baby and its impact on marriage/partnerships

Some people said that the experience of ending a pregnancy for fetal abnormality had strengthened their relationship, but others felt that the experience had put an emotional distance between them for a time. Several people described how they had felt differently from their partners about having more children. 

Generally women said they felt more strongly about wanting to have another baby than their partners, and they realised that men 'went along' with what they wanted. Some women felt they had put their husbands under strain by trying to have another baby before they themselves were really ready mentally or physically. 

Most men were concerned about the effect on their partners of ending another pregnancy if the baby had the same or similar problems. One man said that he hadn't wanted his wife to go through the same thing all over again; someone else had had a vasectomy to make sure his partner didn't get pregnant accidentally. One man mentioned that having sex again after the termination had been difficult for a time because he felt the baby's problems reflected on him as a man. 

Many people said that being able to get pregnant, having children and having the family they had always wanted had become even more important to them since the termination. Several women said they now thought of pregnancy as 'a miracle' and thought that no one should take pregnancy or having a healthy baby for granted. 

Last reviewed July 2017.


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