The experience of losing a wanted baby in the pre-natal period

Prof Doc Thesis

Riches, Samantha 2006. The experience of losing a wanted baby in the pre-natal period. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsRiches, Samantha
TypeProf Doc Thesis

Many parents lose a wanted baby late on in their pregnancy: for example, in England
and Wales 0.5% of all pregnancies end in stillbirth after 24 weeks gestation.
Increasing attention has been paid to the psychological impact of perinatal loss on
families since the 1970s. Losing a baby has been demonstrated to have a variety of
psychological sequelae for families: perinatal death is now accepted as a significant
loss, and hospital management allows parents the option of spending time with their
dead infant and taking mementoes home with them.
In the present study four couples were interviewed and Interpretative
Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) was used to explore their experiences of losing an
infant and the hospital management of the event. The couples had all lost a wanted
baby in the prenatal period, losses ranged from 20 weeks to full-term. Three of the
couples had unexpected losses, and one couple elected to terminate their pregnancy in
the final trimester after serious foetal abnormalities were confirmed. Seven superordinate
themes emerged from the analysis covering the immediate event of the loss,
problems parents faced and the powerlessness they felt, the decision making process
regarding whether to see their baby, how parents coped with their loss, the future, the
impact of parental views regarding attachment and foetal personhood on their
experiences and the cultural context of responses to grief and perinatal loss.
Parents made different choices about whether to spend time with their baby after the
loss, and what rituals to engage in. It is hoped that this study can help understanding
of the complicated decision-making process that parents go through and highlight the
importance of empathetic and sensitive treatment by staff.

Publication dates
PrintSep 2006
Publication process dates
Deposited15 Jul 2014
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