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Keywords:

  • pregnancy termination;
  • prenatal diagnosis;
  • psychosocial follow-up

Abstract

Objectives

To study the feelings of parents during and after termination of pregnancy (TOP) for fetal anomalies.

Methods

Semi-structured interviews were conducted before TOP, after six weeks and six months after TOP. The study group consisted of 89 couples, treated at our institution between 1994 and 1998, who terminated their pregnancy in the second and third trimester. Eighty-six of them participated in at least one of the three interviews.

Results

Most parents were able to cope with the decisions they had to make, although a struggle between reason and emotion often occurred. Seeing the dead baby and saying farewell gave all parents a good feeling afterward. Feelings such as doubt, guilt, failure, shame, anger, anxiety and relief were experienced during the period of TOP and the following weeks but practically disappeared after six months; these feelings were more prevalent in women. Most of the couples mentioned that their relationship grew closer as a result of the loss and the grief. Relatives offered good support to most parents in the first weeks after delivery, but parents felt that this support lasted too short a time.

Conclusions

Seeing the child and saying farewell and the medical and psychosocial support received from professional caregivers were of great value for the interviewees. Parents found the interviews helpful in the grieving process. Copyright © 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.