Ending a pregnancy for fetal abnormality

The impact of the decision

The feelings and emotions people experienced after deciding to end the pregnancy varied from person to person, and could change over time. Several women felt relief once they had made the decision, others felt guilty and wanted to put the clock back to when the pregnancy seemed to be going well. Some said they hadn't felt guilty at the time they made the decision or since, because they were sure in their own minds that they had acted in the baby's best interests. 

Looking back on the decision most people said they were still extremely sad about the decision to end the pregnancy, and wished they had not had such a difficult choice to make. (See 'Coping with bereavement'.)

Most women said they had a tough time between making the decision and actually ending the pregnancy - one woman had been given 3 weeks to make up her mind and said it was like 'being in a black hole'. Women talked about finding it difficult to get to sleep at night and some had nightmares. Most women found they kept thinking about the decision and what it meant and felt tremendous conflict - much of which they kept to themselves. 

Some women experienced conflicting feelings about the baby.  Some said they felt they just wanted everything 'concluded' as quickly as possible, and then found they felt extremely maternal. Several women pointed out how awful it was having to make a decision at the time when they could feel the baby kicking. A few women said how sad it was to be grieving for a baby that was still alive inside them.

Some of those who had a strong faith said it had been difficult making the decision in the first place, but had also found it took them a long time (more than a year in most cases) to cope with guilt. (Also see 'Counselling and other kinds of support'.)

One positive outcome for several women was that coping with the termination and its aftermath had helped to make them stronger emotionally. 

Last reviewed July 2017.

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