Partners and Pregnancy Loss: Perspectives from Co-mothers in the UK

Prof Doc Thesis

Hampson, E. 2022. Partners and Pregnancy Loss: Perspectives from Co-mothers in the UK. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsHampson, E.
TypeProf Doc Thesis

Pregnancy loss has been shown to be an emotionally distressing event, with potentially long-lasting psychological consequences (Cumming et al., 2007). Research has also found that pregnancy loss can have a significant psychological impact on partners (Due et al.,2017). However, research with partners has overwhelmingly focused on fathers in heterosexual relationships and so is limited in its application to LGBTQ+ partners. Research seeking to explore co-mothers (non-gestational female same-sex partners) experiences of pregnancy loss is limited, with only one North American empirical study focussing on this (Wojnar, 2010).
The present study aims to explore how co-mothers in the UK experience pregnancy loss. By locating this research within the UK specifically, it is hoped that this research can begin to build an understanding of how UK healthcare and social systems interact with and impact upon co-mothers’ experiences of pregnancy loss.
This qualitative study used individual, semi-structured interviews. Five co-mothers from across the UK took part in the study. The resultant data were analysed using reflexive thematic analysis.
Four main themes and eleven related subthemes were developed from the data. The main themes were: The Journey Through Loss; Conception And Loss As Intertwined; The Impact Of The NHS On Pregnancy Loss; and Co-Mothers As Invisible And Unknown. The findings provide an insight into co-mothers’ experiences of pregnancy loss. Co-mothers described pregnancy loss as an emotionally complex and destabilising event. The possibility of both mothers being pregnant, or trying to become pregnant at the same time, added both extra complications and benefits to their experiences of loss. The couples’ journey to conception was integral to understanding the ways in which pregnancy loss impacted co-mothers. For co-mothers, pregnancy loss also encompassed a loss of carefully constructed plans, imagined futures and monetary loss, all of which added extra burdens to the already grieving couple. All co-mothers described negative experiences with the NHS, alongside some positive experiences. Co-mothers related some of these experiences to general poor-quality care, and some to direct discrimination.

PublisherUniversity of East London
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Online16 Jan 2023
Publication process dates
Submitted18 Aug 2022
Deposited16 Jan 2023
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