Termination for medical reasons information and support (TFMR) - for dads and partners

When a baby is diagnosed with a life-limiting medical condition in the womb, parents are faced with the heartbreaking decision of whether to end the pregnancy. Having a termination for medical reasons (TFMR) can be a huge trauma. This information is for dads and partners.

Deciding whether to end a pregnancy for medical reasons can be a distressing experience. The medical team should give you the information and support you need to decide what’s best for you and your family.

Deciding to end a pregnancy

If you have been told that your baby has a life-limiting medical condition, you and your partner may be facing the heartbreaking decision of whether to end the pregnancy. You may also be offered a termination if there’s a risk to the mum or birthing parent’s life.   

There’s usually time for you to ask questions and talk to your family before making a decision together. The medical team are there to support you and will give you as much information as they can. It can be difficult to take in the information if you’re feeling shocked and upset.

Don’t be afraid to ask health professionals to repeat what they’ve told you. Some people find it helps to take a list of questions and to note down the answers to help them remember.

We have more information about deciding whether to end a pregnancy for medical reasons.

Coping with TFMR

Making the decision to end a pregnancy is incredibly hard. On top of this, you will be grieving for your baby.  There’s no right or wrong way to feel. 

You may feel overlooked as people can sometimes focus their concern on the parent who carried the baby. This can make it hard to talk about how you’re feeling. Remember that this was your baby too. It’s ok to grieve and ask for help if you want it. 

Being a partner, you take it on a bit more. You want to be the supportive rock.
Adam

We also have more information about looking after your mental health after losing a baby.

Some people find it helpful to talk to others who have been through similar experiences. The Tommy's Support Group is a safe place for members to share their feelings after baby loss without judgement. Antenatal Results & Choices has a password-protected online forum for people who have lost a baby due to TFMR.

If you feel you want professional support, you can ask your GP to refer you to a local counselling service. Antenatal Results & Choices can also help you find a counsellor or therapist in your area.

Telling friends and family

It’s up to you and your partner how much you tell other people about your loss. It can be especially difficult to talk about loss when you had to decide to end the pregnancy.

If you don’t want to tell friends and family, or if they’re finding it hard to understand what you’re going through, you may want to speak to others who have had similar experiences. You can get support from the Tommy's Support Group or the Antenatal Results & Choices online forum.

Looking back, we didn’t deal with it properly and shut down emotionally. My advice is to talk to people about what you’re going through.
Adam

If you have other children, you may wonder what to tell them about their baby brother or sister. This will depend on their age and how much they can understand. Talk to your partner about how much you want to tell your children. Antenatal Results & Choices also has information to help you talk to children about your loss.

More support and information

  • Antenatal Results & Choices has information about TFMR for fathers and same-sex partners
  • Child Bereavement UK has support groups, offers counselling and lots of online resources. They can also help siblings through a bereavement.
  • Healthtalk has video interviews with families who have experienced TFMR.
  • Twins Trust is the Twins and Multiple Births Association for support with losing a multiple birth baby.
     
  1. BMA (2020) The law and ethics of abortion: BMA views. www.bma.org.uk/media/3307/bma-view-on-the-law-and-ethics-of-abortion-sept-2020.pdf    
  2. Lafarge C, Mitchell K, Fox P (2014) Termination of pregnancy for fetal abnormality: a meta-ethnography of women’s experiences. Reproductive Health Matters. 2014; 22(44): 191-201.
     
Review dates
Reviewed: 15 June 2022 | Next review: 15 June 2025