Why Our Baby? HAVING ANOTHER BABY
Although the risk of it happening again is very low, the fear of having another baby with Patau’s Syndrome or Edwards’ Syndrome is great among parents. To ease your fears, discuss with your obstetrician, it is also helpful to seek the advice of a genetic counsellor on the risk of recurrence. (See Genetic Counselling in Chapter 3)
The decision to have another baby is a personal one. If you are caring for a baby or child with Patau’s or Edwards’ Syndrome you will have to take into consideration the extra work that a new baby will bring. However, many parents in this situation successfully embark on another pregnancy while caring for their baby or child who has a trisomy.
If your baby has died, it is important to give yourself time to mourn your baby and to come to terms with what has happened. A new baby will not necessarily ease the feelings of pain and loss that you are experiencing. It is important to welcome a new baby as a new life for his or her own sake.
Doctors often advise that you wait about three months before trying to conceive again. This is usually to give time for medical recovery after childbirth and for normal menstrual cycles to resume. However there are many things to consider before making the decision to try for another baby. Some parents are desperate to try again as soon as possible, while others need more time. For others, trying again is a healing process in itself. It is also recommended to give yourselves time to grieve the loss of your baby.
There may be pressure from others to try again, but it’s important to concentrate on what’s best for you and your partner. Only the two of you can decide what you want to do and it is important that you talk as honestly and openly as you can about how you feel. You may each feel differently about a subsequent pregnancy. It can help to take the time you need to come to a decision together.
If there is a genetic factor that puts you at increased risk of conceiving a baby with a particular condition, this may also play an important part in your decision. Your doctor may refer you for genetic counselling if appropriate to the Department of Clinical Genetics, Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin, Dublin 12. Beware there are waiting lists!
A subsequent pregnancy is always a stressful and worrying time for both parents as they are more aware of all the things that can go wrong. The father may be suffering from his own anxieties, worrying about his partner and the stress she is under and he may also have doubts about the successful outcome of another pregnancy. In the case of a child who has died, their siblings may be afraid it may happen again. Even when another pregnancy progresses normally, it may be difficult to be positive. The prospect of another pregnancy is often very frightening, it may bring back painful memories. Support and counselling can be arranged through the Pre-Natal Diagnosis Clinic and is available in most hospitals.
Once you have decided to try for another baby, you might like to start taking special care of yourself. This is sometimes called pre-conceptual care. Your general health before and around conception is important, both for yourself during the pregnancy, and for your baby’s development.
Contact your doctor as soon as you think or know you are pregnant. This will help you to have the best possible care for you and your baby.
This pregnancy is likely to be emotionally difficult for you. You may be full of fear, relief and hope all at the same time. Your GP, midwife and social worker will be able to help with these emotional difficulties.
All women compare a pregnancy to their previous experience and for you this might be particularly painful and poignant. Whatever your physical health, another pregnancy may be emotionally complex for you. If you are grieving the loss of a child, you will probably find yourself remembering your baby as you move forward with the pregnancy. Some parents have described feeling guilty because they see themselves as being disloyal to the baby they lost as they look towards a new arrival. Children too may be frightened that this baby may die as well.
Some parents value being cared for at the same hospitals and clinics and perhaps even by the same staff as during their previous pregnancy. You might want to think about whether this is important to you and ask for the care that you want. Your medical file should be marked with a special sticker or alert to indicate that you have previously had a baby who died. This helps the staff be more aware that you may need extra care.
In a subsequent pregnancy you may like to avail of an early reassurance scan. This can be arranged in the Early Pregnancy Clinic and will allow you an opportunity to discuss any testing you wish to avail of at an early opportunity. You are likely to be offered to attend a high risk antenatal clinic / perinatal medicine clinic that will facilitate some extra visits /and scans – often for reassurance.
Giving birth to a healthy baby is a dream come true, however many parents have found that their new baby brings difficult feelings along with the joy. Memories of the baby who died are often very strong at this time and you can’t help thinking about what might have been. Bonding with your new baby may be harder because of previous losses. Your new baby may bring your grief to the surface, bringing back feelings that you hadn’t expected. Friends and families may not understand, which may cause difficulties for you.
You may find it helpful to speak to parents who have had a subsequent successful pregnancy.
S.O.F.T. will be able to put you in contact with others who have experienced a similar situation.
Parents say that a new baby restores their sense of confidence in themselves and their future.