Terminating a much-wanted pregnancy is never a choice that anyone wants to have to face. In every respect, it is a truly tough topic to write about and we sincerely feel for anyone who has to go through a heart-wrenching event such as this.
The thought of losing your baby, either through miscarriage or termination, is difficult to grasp and there are dozens of reasons why a pregnant woman may have to make the difficult decision to end it. We're going to talk about the subject here for one reason only, to offer whatever support we can to those of you that may have had to travel this road.
We know parents in this situation often feel alone, and truth be known, there are not a lot of support avenues out there for those who are grieving in this way. With all of this being said, let's band together as women and offer encouragement to each other as we explore a delicate area that befalls some of us as we journey towards motherhood.
Terminating a pregnancy is an option that is undertaken after much consideration and thought. Feeling guilty or questioning the need to terminate is, for certain, going to be a part of the process. We suggest professional counselling if necessary; talking about the outcome of the pregnancy with someone trained to comfort and explain is sure to help you cope.
Friends and family, if you are dealing with a loved one who has had to end a pregnancy for any reason, offer a listening ear. Advice (as well meaning as it is) or comments that can be taken the wrong way at a time when emotions are running high will do nothing to help. We propose you simply listen, and agree to support in any way requested.
7 See Specialists for a Second Opinion
No doubt, as a woman who is facing the possible termination of your pregnancy, you have turned over in your mind again and again the question, "Are we making the right decision?" For starters, the decision must be made between you and your husband alone, in view of the fact that the two of you are the ones impacted the most.
There are specialists who are available to discuss and explain your options, which may be to keep your baby or end the pregnancy.
A perinatologist is an obstetrical specialist who cares for moms-to-be, along with their fetus if either one is suspected to be high risk. The specialist will care for you, but is also there to provide information about the risks and complications of keeping the baby, and to equip you with the knowledge you may need, no matter which way the pregnancy goes.
Always get a second opinion when it comes to devastating news
A genetic counselor can aid in the diagnosis of genetic or chromosomal abnormalities by suggesting certain tests. She will discuss your family history, and offer assistance in helping you make the decision that is best for you and your family.
You may require the care of a perinatologist if:
- you have high blood pressure
- preterm labor occurred in a past pregnancy
- you have suffered from repetitive pregnancy loss
If there is suspected abnormal growth of your fetus, you'll be seen by the perinatologist and genetic counselor for further tests which will look for things such as neural tube defects. (No test is 100% accurate, which is why about 50% of women deemed to have a high risk of fetal abnormality choose not to test before hand.)
6 The Health of the Mom is at Risk
An expectant mom and dad will have to consider carefully the consequences and extreme risk of continuing a pregnancy if the health of mom is at risk.
Risks may result from a previous health issue, or a complication that has arisen as a result of conception. If you have lupus, kidney disease or high blood pressure, for example, these illnesses can lead to significant problems. Visiting a physician to begin careful monitoring prior to conception is crucial to the health of the mother.
Unfortunately, difficult situations can arise no matter how much monitoring is in place. For example, preeclampsia and eclampsia (which is additionally dangerous in the fact that it is accompanied by seizures) may result if you have the following conditions before becoming pregnant:
- chronic high blood pressure
- previous development of blood clots
- kidney disease
If you develop preeclampsia, the pregnancy can often be carried to term under a perinatologists care. Unfortunately, if you develop eclampsia, which is basically preeclampsia that has gone out of possible control, the baby will have to be delivered no matter how far along the pregnancy has gone, due to extreme risk to your life and that of your and child.
Symptoms are a severe headache, vision problems, upper right abdominal pain, a change in mental health and notably, seizures.
5 Ectopic Pregnancy
Though the ectopic pregnancy is a relatively rare occurrence, it is a reality that some mothers-to-be have to face.
An ectopic pregnancy occurs when the fetus develops outside of the womb. Occasionally this happens in the abdominal cavity, but most often takes place in the fallopian tube. The unavoidable complication resulting from an ectopic pregnancy is that the tube will burst as a result of the growing baby, which can cause severe bleeding.
There are no alternatives at this point, though, in the future, medical intervention may be able to prevent the loss of the child by transferring the pregnancy from the fallopian tube to womb. As well, there have been a few rare and miraculous births wherein the baby has been born and survived after an unknown pregnancy in the abdomen or ovary.
These types of pregnancy can be extremely painful for the woman
- abdominal pain
- nausea and vomiting
An ectopic pregnancy can be caused by a pelvic inflammatory disease, infection of the fallopian tube, endometriosis and failed tubal sterilisation.
Though there is no option other than to terminate, it makes the decision no less heartbreaking than other termination situations. We suggest counselling if you suffer from long-term guilt or sadness.
4 Edwards Syndrome
Edwards syndrome, named after the doctor who discovered it, is also known as Trisomy 18. Resulting from an error in cell division, the outcome is a tripling of chromosome 18. This is the 2nd most common type of trisomy syndrome, after Down's syndrome. Development is compromised significantly and only 50% of babies carried to term are born alive. In babies who make it to birth, the threat to life in the early months and years is very present.
Your doctor might suggest a termination of pregnancy due to the fact that babies who do survive are often born with abnormalities, the following list being just some of them:
- fists that are clenched
- defects in the lungs, heart, stomach and kidney
- chest deformity
- severe developmental delays
Before birth, this condition can be determined by amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling.
Caregivers will counsel you in your decision whether to terminate the pregnancy, advising you of the statistic that only 10% of Edwards syndrome babies live to see their first birthday. There is a small group of adults in the world who have lived into their twenties and thirties, although with developmental delays that require full-time care.
Deciding to terminate your pregnancy knowing that your child has Trisomy 18 is a highly personal decision; we hope that the support you receive will be behind you 100%, no matter if you terminate or decide to carry the baby to term.
3 Patau Syndrome
A combination of ultrasound, amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling will confirm the sad diagnosis of Trisomy 13, or Patau Syndrome. Your doctor may suggest that you terminate your pregnancy if it is confirmed that your child has this syndrome.
Patau Syndrome is the most severe of the chromosomal abnormalities, and most of the babies found to have this disorder are lost during the nine month period of gestation.
Having three copies of chromosome 13 in each cell as opposed to the normal two, can cause Patau Syndrome. Similarly, if part of chromosome 13 becomes attached to another chromosome during early development, severe complications can result.
As heartbreaking as your decision may be, you might choose to end the pregnancy because only 5 to 10% of children live past the age of one-year-old.
Children born with this disorder typically have the complications listed below:
- brain and spinal cord defects
- extra fingers and toes
- small or poorly developed eyes
- brain structure abnormalities
- various hernias
- intellectual disability
- seizures, and more.
Complications evident at birth (in the rare case that full term birth is achieved) are deafness, seizures and lack of ability to breathe independently.
2 To Avoid Your Baby Suffering, or Facing the Trauma of Stillbirth
Though many parents choose to not terminate a pregnancy and go through the nine months no matter what the outcome, many expectant parents have different views when it comes to their own situation. To be honest, none of us can comment or judge until we've been there.
Heartache, emotional upheaval and extreme lasting melancholy are all experiences some of us will encounter when faced with a difficult diagnosis.
Making the decision is intensely personal and we know that the days leading up to a termination, or the months leading up to an imminent stillbirth will be excruciatingly painful and a tough burden to carry.
The road ahead will be a hard one
For some, continuing with the pregnancy no matter what the outcome is the only choice they will make. Other parents don't want to see their baby struggle or suffer for any amount of time and make the decision to terminate before the gestational period is finished.
Troublesome and complex is the choice to terminate mid-pregnancy in order to avert the sometimes lifelong trauma of a stillbirth. Still, others choose to deliver the baby in order to hold him and may find closure better this way.
Naming your baby if you choose to do so, whether you have to terminate early or mid-pregnancy, (for example in the case of eclampsia) may be a way to remember and celebrate the life of the child that did not reach fruition.
Personal and completely your own, these preferences are yours to make.
1 Support the Husband and Wife Together
Parents who have gone through the trauma of losing a child due to miscarriage or termination will both face the emotions of depression, denial and often anger. Rest in the knowledge that you will eventually heal and begin to move forward again in your lives as a couple.
In the meantime, you most likely will have to make a concerted effort to keep your marriage strong and healthy - and this will not be achieved overnight. For the most part, the most fitting thing we can say right now is, try to stick together through it all.
Keep these thoughts between both you and your spouse as you work towards recovery:
- try not to allow guilt to overcome the truth
- other children in the family need you
- attend therapy together or apart; whichever way helps you the most
- accept help from friends and family in the form of meals, babysitting or drives to appointments
- counselling from a professional or a clergy member may allow you to express your emotions more freely
- it's okay to need to be alone, away from your spouse and other families sometimes
No one ever wants to prolong their grief or feeling of loss, but we know it can be trying. If a certain song or poem allows the tears of pain or joy to flow, then listen to it over and over in order to heal.
You may find it helpful to honor the memory of your child by volunteering, making a donation in her name or joining a charity walk to celebrate her short, but nonetheless special life.