Ein Kind gibt einer schwangeren Frau einen Kuss auf den Bauch.

Bad news from a prenatal diagnostician

Some of the worst news a pregnant woman can get: something is wrong with your child. It’s a shock that needs to be overcome and that you need to deal with.

The woman’s partner and family are often not enough, and she needs help. When the woman or the couple are first told about the diagnosis, a psychologist is present and provides initial support. It can then be helpful to contact a family counseling center and to be supported by a psychosocial counseling service. Both centers will support the expectant mother and help her to deal with the diagnosis.

“One of the main problems is that surgery during pregnancy can rarely do anything to change the situation,” explains Tanja Kops. Operations on unborn children are therefore very rare, such as for example on a heart defect in an embryo, where the medical options are very limited.

It can also be sensible and helpful to obtain another medical opinion or to talk to a midwife. Free counseling is available in the Midwife Center and in Parent and Child Centers throughout the pregnancy and for the first year of life, for example before medical tests, during diagnoses, if the parents have any uncertainties, anxieties or problems or need the situation to be explained, preparation for birth etc. Tanja Kops advises people to learn about the advantages and disadvantages in detail before the tests and to think about why and whether you want to do them or not. In an ideal world, you would make the decision that gives you confidence in the pregnancy, not least to help you develop a secure bond with your unborn child.

Beyond the prenatal tests for diseases and disabilities, news that a Caesarean section may need to be carried out is often unexpected. If the child is in the breech position, it is still possible to turn it in the mother’s womb or (in some clinics) to birth the child spontaneously. If a Caesarean section is unavoidable, good preparation for the unwanted surgery provides a good degree of safety. Tanja Kops has tips that help people to accept that they are having a Caesarean section: “Ask yourself: what would I want the circumstances to be? What do I want and what don’t I want? How can I make the best of the situation?”

You can get additional tips from numerous other family counseling centers.

Our interview partner

Tanja Kops, freelance midwife with the "Hebammenzentrum" in Vienna.

8/inner courtyard left
1090 Vienna
Website Hebammenzentrum

The interview was conducted in August 2013 and revised in April 2022. 

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