When a fetus or newborn is diagnosed with a life-threatening condition, no matter how early or late in the pregnancy, it is a loss that parents grieve.
Parents imagine their child’s future from the moment they find out they’re expecting. Before even seeing the OB, parents may have countless plans for their baby. Now different plans must be made. For this reason, palliative care may be recommended before, during, and after delivery.
Palliative care may be recommended for newborns who:
- Are extremely early or with extremely low birth weight
- Are born with a lethal congenital abnormality or malformation
- Will experience more burden than benefit from further treatments for their condition
Palliative care can begin as soon as a diagnosis is made, even if it’s during pregnancy. If a baby or fetus has a life-threatening condition, doctors usually will offer parents a set of options. Palliative care providers help parents make and cope with these decisions.
Know What You’re Feeling Is Normal
Getting a diagnosis of a baby’s life-threatening condition may be the worst news of a parent’s life. When an abnormality is diagnosed prenatally, parents can expect to feel a number of normal emotions. Some of the most typical reactions include:
- Disbelief of the diagnosis
- Guilt for the possibility of having done something that may have caused this
- Thoughts of not carrying a pregnancy to term and associated guilt
- Fear of never being able to have a healthy child