When a baby dies: Motherhood, psychosocial care and negative affect

Ewa Nordlund, Astrid Börjesson, Joanne Cacciatore, Carissa Pappas, Ingrid Randers, Ingela Rådestad

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    11 Scopus citations


    Background: The process of giving birth to a baby who has died is a significantly traumatic experience for the mother and her family and also for health professionals. Support, or even the perceived lack of support, from professionals often influences whether or not the parents choose to see and hold their baby. Psychosocial clinical care may also affect long-term psychiatric sequelae. The purpose of this study is to explore the lived experiences of mothers following the death of a baby and their interaction with healthcare professionals. Methods: Through a web-based survey, a content analysis of this open-ended question was conducted: 'Do you currently feel sad, hurt, or angry for something health professionals did in connection to the birth of your baby?' Results: Mothers reported feeling sadness when they perceived too little support from professionals, particularly related to bonding time with the baby. They reported feelings of disappointment when health professionals neither acknowledged nor validated their motherhood. Mothers reported anger in response to professionals they perceived to be indifferent or callous toward their loss. They also reported that they felt hurt when health professionals lacked respect and when they felt abandoned by the personnel. Conclusions: There are crucial implications for practice; it is important for women who experience a stillbirth to have their motherhood actively acknowledged and validated and to have the humble, empathic presence of their health professionals.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)780-784
    Number of pages5
    JournalBritish Journal of Midwifery
    Issue number11
    StatePublished - Nov 2012

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Maternity and Midwifery


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