It is estimated that approximately 150,000 babies in the
Finding out that your unborn baby has an abnormality or birth defect can bring about a multitude of emotions. Shock, devastation, guilt, worry, sadness, stress and anger are all typical emotions you might feel during this time.
Like neural tube defects, some fetal abnormalities can be detected during a prenatal ultrasound examination. Other birth defects and fetal abnormalities, such as Down syndrome and spina bifida will be diagnosed through more in-depth laboratory tests. While some fetal abnormalities are more complex, as is the case with anencephaly, others are simple and can be treated after your baby is born, such as a cleft lip. If your doctor has diagnosed your baby with an abnormality, the days and weeks ahead could prove to be stressful as you ponder your options.
The most important thing that you can do when faced with a fetal abnormality is to allow yourself time to grieve. Realizing that one parent may grieve differently than the other is generally beneficial as well. Give yourself time to accept the diagnosis so that you can make the best decision for you and your unborn baby.
Next, educate yourself about the situation at hand. Gather as much information as you can in regard to the abnormality. Visit the library, do an Internet search and ask your doctor or a pediatrician. Share the information with your partner and anyone else that will have an active role in the care of your child.
If the defect is more severe, you may be forced to make a much harder decision: to terminate the pregnancy or allow it to come to fruition. Friends, family and medical professionals may try to persuade you to make a decision based on their beliefs, but it is very important that you and your partner make the decision based on the facts that have been presented to you, your personal beliefs and what you feel is best for you and your unborn baby.
Whether you decide to continue the pregnancy or terminate, finding a support system so that you can surround yourself with others that understand exactly what you are going through is usually a positive experience. Knowing that there are other parents experiencing similar situations may help ease your fear and provide the support you need during this time.
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