Is diagnosis a trauma?

If you have received a prenatal test result for your child, we are here to support you. Our services are free. Talk with one of our nurses to determine if parent care coordination would be helpful for you. 

You may have been shocked and even traumatized upon hearing the news of your child’s diagnosis. Such a reaction is not unusual. A study of parents receiving a prenatal diagnosis found 88% of mothers and 83% of fathers responded in ways that indicated they were traumatized.1 Trauma was experienced by parents without regard to the severity of the anomaly diagnosed, suggesting the receiving of the diagnosis was traumatic.

Why might you consider the possibility that your diagnosis has traumatized you? Trauma has real impacts and some of them may be impacting you now. First, trauma makes remembering and organizing information and making decisions more difficult. If rushed, it may result in making a decision you regret later.  

1043-800Traumatized individuals often also feel the need to “fight or flight” around their traumatizing event. You or your spouse or partner may be angry about how the diagnosis was given to you. You may have agreed to additional testing to prove the doctor’s presumption of a diagnosis wrong. You may have felt the need to escape from the doctor’s office as quickly as possible. You may experience a sense of being trapped as a result of the diagnosis, or have difficulty returning to the doctor’s office or the hospital where the diagnosis was given.

It is possible to feel as if you have lost the connection to your baby as a result of your diagnosis.  This may be related to the flight response which may make you or your spouse or partner feel like ending the pregnancy as quickly as possible is the best idea. Trauma is also often defined as the loss of connection to self and others, most especially the baby you are carrying.  

You may feel pressured to make a decision quickly. Even so, you have the right to take the needed time to make an informed decision. Take some time to recognize your own emotional state and how it could affect your decision-making. Then take some time to understand your options. Feel free to explore the information and resources on this website to assist you. Know you do not need to do this alone. 

Sources:

1. https://www.nature.com/articles/jp201122