Recent advances in prenatal screening and diagnosis have resulted in an increasing number of women receiving a diagnosis of fetal anomalies. In this study, we aimed to clarify the hopes for childbirth and parenting of women diagnosed with fetal anomalies and to suggest a family-centered care tailored for this situation in perinatal settings.
A descriptive qualitative study was performed. We recruited women diagnosed with fetal anomalies who were over 22 years old, beyond 22 weeks of gestation, and had scheduled pregnancy and delivery management at a tertiary perinatal medical center specializing in neonatal and pediatric care in a metropolitan area of Japan from April 2019 to December 2019. Women who were willing to participate received support from a midwife to create birth plans. Data were collected from the documented birth plans submitted by 24 women and analyzed using content analysis.
We identified three themes of women’s hopes based on the descriptions of the submitted birth plans: (1) Hopes as women who are expecting childbirth, (2) Hopes as mothers of a baby, (3) Hopes of being involved in the family needs. Several distinctive hopes were clarified in the context of the women’s challenging situations. In describing their hopes, the women were neither overoptimistic or overstated their actual situations, nor caused embarrassment to the healthcare providers. The importance of supporting their involvement in baby matters in the way each family wants also emerged. However, several barriers to fulfilling the women’s hopes were identified including the babies’ conditions and hospital regulations against family visits or presence.
All three themes identified in the study provide important insights for analyzing more deeply ways of implementing a family-centered care for women diagnosed with fetal anomalies in perinatal settings. To improve women’s engagement in decision-making as a team member, women’s hopes should be treated with dignity and respect, and included in the perinatal care of women with abnormal fetuses. Further research is needed to improve the inclusion of women’s hopes in their care in clinical settings.
UMIN Clinical Trials Registry: UMIN000033622 (First registration date: 03/08/2018).