Losing a baby at 20-24 weeks of pregnancy

Experiences when a fetal anomaly is detected before birth

We spoke to three mothers who found out their baby had a severe anomaly at a routine scan. Their experiences may be different to other mothers who have found out their baby has a severe anomaly. Their pregnancies had been progressing well, so finding out their baby had a severe problem at their 18 to 21 week scan came as a great shock. Alison described how “in a few minutes… it all kind of went wrong”. Helen remembered it was ‘horrible’ when the sonographer’s face went “from normal to 'ooh, I need - you stay here, I need to go and get someone and check this'”.
Making decisions

What was revealed in the scans presented parents with very difficult decisions about whether to continue with the pregnancy. Sam and her partner decided to end the pregnancy when they found out their son had a severe problem with his bones and would only live for a few days. Alison and her husband were told their son was only likely to survive a few hours because of a problem with his kidneys, and didn’t want him to suffer being “hooked up to machines”. They had to wait over a weekend before they could get a second opinion which confirmed the anomaly and they decided to end the pregnancy. Both Alison and Sam’s pregnancies were ended by taking tablets to induce their labour. This meant they then went through labour and gave birth to their baby naturally. In some cases mothers are offered the option of ending their pregnancy surgically.

Helen was told that the chances of her baby surviving and living a healthy life were very low. Her Catholic faith guided her towards undergoing a high risk procedure that might help her baby. But it had only a small chance of success and sadly her baby died at 23 weeks of pregnancy and Helen had to have her labour induced.
For the mothers we spoke to, going through labour and birth knowing that their baby had already died was extremely difficult and emotional. 


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