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Psicologia, Saúde & Doenças

Print version ISSN 1645-0086


SOUSA, Lucília  and  PEREIRA, M. Graça. The interruption of pregnancy due to congenital malformation: the father`s perspective. Psic., Saúde & Doenças [online]. 2009, vol.10, n.1, pp.31-47. ISSN 1645-0086.

The development of prenatal diagnosis techniques have made possible the identification of some health problems in the inborn baby and the determination of the risk of such occurrence, leaving parents with the choice and responsibility of deciding about the fetus’ health long before the birth. The complexity of such decisions places the couple in a crossroad and any of the chosen roads will impact their lives forever. The father´ s experience has been neglected by researchers and, as a result, their experience is not well known. This study aims to understand the meanings fathers give to the pregnancy interruption, due to congenital malformation, of their baby. A qualitative analysis was used (grounded theory). The sample includes 12 men whose wives terminated their pregnancy in the obstetric service of S. Marcos Hospital in Braga. Results show that pregnancy interruption due to congenital malformation is a very intense emotional experience, with a great involvement of fathers during the entire process. The decision making process required a confrontation of doubts and uncertainties, ambivalent feelings and moral dilemmas, as a consequence of the investment on the pregnancy and the emotional relationship that was already established with the baby. Fathers tend not to value their need for support, and centred all their worries on their mates. Health professionals, in their opinion, show low sensibility towards their feelings and needs and are seen as barriers to their involvement through the process. Sharing their experience with their mates and mutual support between the couple strengthen the marital relationship. The project of a new pregnancy revealed the search for a new meaning in these fathers’ lives. These results show the need to look in depth into the impact of this life event on the father´ s life and the role of health professionals in the process.

Keywords : Anxiety; Interruption; Malformation; Pregnancy; Father.

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