Vol 17, No 4 (2023)
Research paper
Published online: 2023-04-28

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This birth is difficult but beautiful — parents’ experience of giving birth to a baby with a lethal foetal diagnosis

Urszula Tataj-Puzyna1, Beata Szlendak2, Magdalena Szabat3, Joanna Krzeszowiak4, Dorota Sys5
Palliat Med Pract 2023;17(4):225-232.


Introduction: The experience of childbirth, during which parents welcome and say goodbye to their child at the same time, is an unimaginably difficult/traumatic experience. This study aims to explore parents’ experiences following the birth of a terminally ill baby.

Material and methods: Semi-structured, in-depth interviews were conducted in this qualitative study. The interviews were developed using content analysis, by coding and constructing themes in iterative, collaborative meetings, using the MAXQDA tool. Thirteen parents took part in the study: nine women following a prenatal diagnosis with a lethal prognosis for their child and four fathers of those children.

Results: Content analysis revealed two main themes and two sub-themes. The first theme is “Embracing bad news during pregnancy” and the second theme is “This birth is difficult but beautiful”, within which the following sub-themes were identified: “Joy of meeting the baby” and “Saying goodbye to your child is important”.

Conclusions: For parents who were preparing for childbirth after prenatal diagnosis with a lethal prognosis for their child, the experience of childbirth had positive implications. Meeting their newborn child was an important moment for them, an affirmation of their parenthood. Parents emphasised that the time to say goodbye to their child was a celebration of their brief parenthood.

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