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Women’s health and midwifery
Learning to love: shunning conventional stereotyping of giving birth to a baby with an abnormality
  1. Tracey Cooper MBE
  1. Maternity Unit, Warrington and Halton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Warrington, Cheshire, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Tracey Cooper MBE, Warrington and Halton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Warrington WA5 1QG, UK; tcooper6{at}

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Commentary on: O’Connell O, Meaney S, O Donoghue KO. Anencephaly; the maternal experience of continuing with the pregnancy. Incompatible with life but not with love. Midwifery 2019;71;12–18.

Implications for practice and research

  • Identification of anxiety and mental health implications needs to be implicit in caring for women finding out the diagnosis of a baby having anencephaly. Health professionals need associated training.

  • Improved psychological support is needed, and this should be considered when mental health provision services are being scoped.

  • Further research into women’s experiences of having a baby with anencephaly would help inform practice transformation.


Anencephaly is a rare condition, but where termination of pregnancy is culturally and legally restrictive more cases will be experienced. With the current news of areas in the USA restricting abortion, these experiences are likely to increase.1 This paper, based …

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  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.