The taboo of termination of pregnancy due to maternal pathology: a testimony.

by Claudia Ravaldi

Thousands of women face an interruption of pregnancy in the first twenty weeks of gestation for pre-existing health reasons or for serious risks related to the continuation of pregnancy (as occurs in the case of ectopic pregnancy, for example).

These women have a hard time feeling themselves as carriers of perinatal bereavement and therefore tend not to ask for support, for various reasons:

the first reason is that they have to face two traumatic deaths at the same time, one linked to their physical health, endangered or seriously compromised by pregnancy, the other linked to the loss of the desired child and the two burdens are often exhausting to manage;

the second reason is that after an unfortunate diagnosis one is called to choose what to do, to weigh the risks and benefits, advantages and disadvantages of the choice, (when you have time to choose and you do not have to intervene urgently): the choice of terminating a desired pregnancy even if rationally motivated by clear medical indications, it is never “light-hearted”, because psychological, relational, spiritual aspects come into play and very often it is the theme of choice that keeps women away from support.

You often write to us apologizing for writing to us, sometimes you take it for granted that what you are feeling is not perinatal bereavement because those who choose must suffer alone. You write to us with the idea that we would be authorized to judge you. To create distinctions, between Serie A bereavement and Serie B bereavement. Waiting for a judgment, a groomed, yet another raised eyebrow.

I thank you for writing to us, for reading books, articles, looking for a comparison with other women. I thank you for not giving (too much) space to judgment and guilt, which are the worst enemies of grieving and try to get back on your feet, even by passing through our community.

Wanting a baby and having a serious condition is no joke.

Expecting a baby and having a bad diagnosis is not an experience that can be talked about competently if you don’t live it directly.

Because the expectant woman, after that diagnosis, must make a gesture of love for herself, to which, alas, we are not educated, as women. A gesture that seems impious and that can only be silenced, unfortunately, in most environments.

The act of letting go to save oneself.

To put ourselves above those we love, to be saved.

This step is never painless and it is very shortsighted to trivialize it by placing the emphasis on serious illness, high risks or the presence of other children to look after. It’s all true, but logic isn’t enough to soothe the fresh wound of mourning.

Like all critical steps, this one too needs outstretched hands to be tackled with as little scarring as possible.

Hands outstretched, ready to grab you as you fall.

We do not need pushes to get better or slaps to remind us that we have chosen to suffer.

Hands ready to welcome and ears ready to listen.

That is useful, in the long process of rebuilding oneself. Tears, blood, silences and rituals.

Not to forget anything.

To be reborn, despite everything.

Thanks to S. for his precious testimony.

“A dead mother.

Because that’s how it is.

Orbited by everything, orbited by a veil that shows only empty spaces where others see whole forms.

There are no words or definitions for this, perhaps because it is unnatural, perhaps because everything stops in that emptiness.

An orbited mother sees but does not see because her eyes are always filled with tears.

Tears that must not fall because there is secret, fear, taboo.

Those eyes see anger, pain, helplessness, injustice and they veil themselves even if they are only blind, not blind because in putting off the tears there are other children who call you, who pull you, who leave you no space for nothing, there are friends and relatives who do not know and continue normally.

There is the work that continues, everything continues, but not a piece of you.

A piece of you is still. It is held by a thread that flies away but keeps you with it. And that piece never comes back, it remains motionless forever and does not continue, it does not go on.

Everything else goes on, you are at the mercy of everything, confused, tossed about, intent on hiding everything, concentrated on pretending the usual or finding excuses to hide.

Because there is so much shame too.

There is a questioning of oneself, the kind of person one has become.

We hate ourselves, we feel terribly wrong. In some cases there is so much shame and fear that not even being able to say anything to those who have passed through it, but through other paths.

So you feel even more guilty, more judged than ever, if you had to tell someone.

You see yourself blacker than black that since it happened is the color that covers you from the pelvis down. Or like the black you contemplate in all the nights you don’t sleep and in those moments you give yourself a moment to yourself.

A moment in which you are not a mother, you are not a wife, you are just a person who has a broken heart and does not find consolation in anything, who relives all possible situations, who turns the omelette to see if it really had to go like this.

A struggle between right and wrong, a battle between feelings and reason.

Then the alarm goes off and everything starts up again.

Throw yourself into a blender, keep calm and continue in total normality.

At the first solitary moment a failure, but then self-control and away in silence to continue the normal rhythm of the day. Because there is no mention of these things, they are not even mentioned and then after all you are looking for it and it suits you.

The phrases of circumstance are endless and all stabbed in the stomach .

Because for a mother, even just taken the test is already her child. They are not cells, they are not fetuses, they are not a thing…. P.

er a mother is already her child only when she discovers that it exists. There are no weeks or months that take.

The phrases that are said to console or to get rid of embarrassment, keep them as well. For a mother there is only the word: it is my baby.


It was Min e.


All you need is silence and understanding, also not to say anything or to say “come and tell me everything even if it’s three hours, throw it all out”. Do not say so much you will make another one because they are not old shoes to replace, it is like saying you die so much the world is full at most another one comes out.

Plus, not everyone can weather that storm with rainbow babies. For some, the rainbow will never come and they will have to stay there all their lives with that storm.

And everything changes. You don’t even want to exist from the navel down and you feel divided into that as well.

On the one hand, disappearing, on the other, returning to normal because you also have a husband.

Sometimes you hate him deeply sometimes if he were not there you would not even be standing, but when you see him approaching you hate him because you seem the only one to suffer and that has stopped.

Who relives that moment every time, who lowers his underwear and there is always blood. Blood that has always been around us that manages our whole life.

A taboo made up only of women, a thing between women. Blood that unites everything.

Meanwhile, the days on the calendar go by, nothing has stopped. Only the heart of a few steps when it thinks that you have nothing. You remember it consolation. That a moment can do so much harm, that a test can turn into a sentence and that it can bring with it many tribulations.

Ritualize, from symbols.

You almost feel like a witch looking for every sign in the world. Because now you are no longer the same, you stop at an intersection and you don’t know where to go. “


Thanks for writing S. Thanks for opening a hand in the direction of ours. I wish you to find your way, through mourning.

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