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Ending a pregnancy

If you have made the decision to end a wanted pregnancy because of problems detected in your baby, it is very normal to experience a range of emotions. You may also be very worried about what you will have to go through. Nothing can make this experience easy, but good information and individualised support can help you to prepare and to think through your options. At ARC we have many years' experience supporting people through these difficult experiences. Your hospital may have given you a copy of the ARC Parents' Handbook, which contains information about the practical and emotional issues you might face in ending a pregnancy. If not, please get in touch with ARC for a free copy. We can also put you in touch with trained volunteers who have been through a termination after a prenatal diagnosis.

Methods of termination

This is just a short summary of the methods used to end a pregnancy:

  • If you are less than 13 weeks pregnant, your hospital will usually give you the choice of medical induction (labour and delivery) or surgical termination under general anaesthetic
  • More than 13 weeks pregnant – it is not always possible for an NHS hospital to offer a surgical termination. *
  • In some hospitals there are obstetricians who can perform terminations under general anaesthetic after 13 weeks. *
  • More than 21 weeks pregnant - it may be suggested that the baby is given an injection. This is to ensure that the baby dies before the pregnancy is induced. This procedure is usually done in a specialist fetal medicine centre.
  • Most hospitals give a tablet of Mifepristone 24-48 hours before admission to hospital. If you find this is too long to wait, you can ask for admission to hospital 12 hours after taking the tablet. There is a 1% chance you may begin labour earlier than expected. If there are any signs, for example a 'show' or pains, you should go straight to the hospital. If you have any concerns after taking the tablet, contact your doctor or midwife.

* It is possible to have a termination under general anaesthetic after 13 weeks (and up to 24 weeks) with an independent abortion provider, such as the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (bpas) or Marie Stopes International (MSI). Although independent services in the UK are highly competent and professional, for some women it can feel difficult being in an environment where terminations are being carried out because the pregnancy is unwanted. Please call ARC if it would help to talk through these and other issues involved in ending a pregnancy.