Advertisement

Postnatal Care pp 108-124 | Cite as

Care of the Grieving Parent with Special Reference to Stillbirth

  • Margaret Adams
  • Joyce Prince
Chapter
Part of the Midwifery Practice book series (MIPRA)

Abstract

The perinatal mortality rate for England and Wales in 1988 was 8.7 for every 1000 live and stillbirths (OPCS 1988). The risk of perinatal death is higher for multiple births (McMullan 1986) and for babies in neonatal units (HC 1980). Parents who have decided on a therapeutic abortion have a painful path to tread and they too will need support in their loss, as will parents who suffer a spontaneous abortion. A midwife should be prepared therefore to help those parents who have lost their baby, either through neonatal death, stillbirth or abortion. The handicapped baby may also precipitate a sense of loss because the imagined ‘perfect child’ (Gardner 1986) will not materialise. In some instances, the mother may go home while her handicapped, sick or premature baby remains behind in the neonatal unit. The longed for perfect child is mourned while parents try to care for and love the defective baby for which they were not prepared. Their contact with the child does help to make him a ‘real person’. Mourning is generally found to be easier when there is a recognised focus for grief (Newman 1984), so that when death does occur the grieving process may be managed to give more effective resolution.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Adams M 1987 Deliveries — mothers or midwives — a study of communication styles in midwifery. MSc Dissertation (unpublished), University of SurreyGoogle Scholar
  2. Alexander J 1984 Miscarriage: a cause for care. Primary Health Care 2(10): 8–9Google Scholar
  3. Bourne S, Lewis E 1984 Pregnancy after stillbirth or neonatal death: psychological risks and management. Lancet ii: 31–3CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Butler N 1969 Perinatal problems. Churchill Livingstone, EdinburghGoogle Scholar
  5. Butler N, Bonham A 1963 Perinatal mortality survey. Churchill Livingstone, EdinburghGoogle Scholar
  6. Culberg J 1972 Mental reactions of women to perinatal death in psychosomatic medicine. In Obstetrics and gynaecology: proceedings of the third international congress. Karger, Basel, LondonGoogle Scholar
  7. Engel G 1962 Psychological disorders in health and disease. W B Saunders, PhiladelphiaGoogle Scholar
  8. Forrest G C, Standish E, Baum J D 1982 Support after perinatal death: a study of support and counselling after perinatal bereavement. British Medical Journal 285: 1475–79PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Gardner S, Morenstein G 1986 Perinatal grief and loss: an overview. Neonatal Network, OctoberGoogle Scholar
  10. Gibbons M 1984 Psychiatric sequelae of induced abortion. Journal of the Royal College of General Practitioners 34: 146–50PubMedCentralPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Giles P 1970 Reactions of women to perinatal death. Australia/New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology 10: 207–10CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Gohlish C 1985 Stillbirth. Midwife, Health Visitor and Community Nurse 21(1): 12–16Google Scholar
  13. Goodall J 1984 Notes for parents who have lost a child. Maternal and Child Health 1984 (April): 120–2Google Scholar
  14. Health Education Bureau and SANDS A little lifetime. A booklet for parents whose babies have died around the time of birth. Health Education Bureau and SANDS, IrelandGoogle Scholar
  15. Hill S 1989 Family. Michael Joseph, LondonGoogle Scholar
  16. House of Commons Social Services Committee (HC) 1980 Report on perinatal and neonatal mortality (Short Report). HMSO, LondonGoogle Scholar
  17. Hughes P 1987 The management of bereaved mothers: what is best? Midwives Chronicle 100(1195): 226–29PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Hutti M E 1988 A quick reference table of interventions to assist families to cope with pregnancy loss or neonatal death. Birth 15(1): 33–5PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kennell J H, Slyter H, Klaus M 1970 The mourning response of parents to the death of a newborn infant. New England Journal of Medicine 283: 344–49PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kenyon S 1988 Support after termination for fetal abnormality. Midwives Chronicle 101(1205): 190–91PubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Kohner N 1985 Midwives and stillbirth. RCM/HEC Workshop. RCM, LondonGoogle Scholar
  22. Kubler-Ross E 1970 On death and dying. Tavistock Publications, LondonGoogle Scholar
  23. Kumar R, Robson K 1978 Neurotic disturbance during pregnancy and the Puerperium. In Sandler M (ed) Mental illness in pregnancy and the Puerperium. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  24. Lake M, Knuppel R, Murphy J, Johnson T 1983 The role of a grief support team following stillbirth. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 146(8): 877–81PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Lewis E, Bryan E M 1988 Management of perinatal loss of twins. British Medical Journal 297: 1321 (M) 1613 (C)PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Lindman E 1944 Symptomatology and management of acute grief. American Journal of Psychiatry 101: 141–48CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Maternity Services Advisory Committee 1985 Maternity care in action, Part III. Care of the mother and baby. HMSO, LondonGoogle Scholar
  28. McMullan P 1986 Twin pregnancy. British Journal for Nurses in Child Health 1(9): 264–65Google Scholar
  29. Methven R C 1982 An examination of the process and content of the ante-natal booking interview. Unpublished MSc thesis, University of ManchesterGoogle Scholar
  30. Moore A 1987 Forgotten women. Midwives Chronicle 100(1195): 242Google Scholar
  31. Nash K 1987 It’s still a baby. Midwives Chronicle 100(1192): 123–25PubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Neustatter A, Newson G 1986 Mixed feelings: the experience of abortion. Pluto Press, LondonGoogle Scholar
  33. Newman A 1984 Coping with grief. Nursing Times 81(6): 32–4Google Scholar
  34. Oakley A, McPherson A, Roberts H 1990 Miscarriage. Fontana, LondonGoogle Scholar
  35. Office of Population Censuses and Surveys 1988 Birth statistics for England and Wales. OPCS, LondonGoogle Scholar
  36. Parkes C M 1972 Bereavement: studies of grief in adult life. Penguin Books, HarmondsworthGoogle Scholar
  37. Parkes C M 1980 Bereavement counselling: does it work? British Medical Journal 281: 3–6PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Paykel E S, Emms E, Fletcher J, Rassaby E S 1980 Life events and social support in puerperal depression. British Journal of Psychiatry 136: 339–46PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Penson J 1990 Bereavement — a guide for nurses. Harper and Row, LondonGoogle Scholar
  40. Pepper L G, Knapp R J 1980 Motherhood and mourning. Praeger, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  41. Roch S 1987 Sharing the grief. Nursing Times 83(14): 52–3PubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. Rice M 1982 Bereavement counselling: support available for the bereaved. Unpublished report of study leave. In RCM libraryGoogle Scholar
  43. Tom-Johnson C 1990 Talking through grief. Nursing Times 86(1): 44PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Tschudin V 1987 Counselling skills for nurses (2nd ed). Baillière Tindall, LondonGoogle Scholar
  45. United Kingdom Central Council 1989 A Midwife’s Code of Practice for midwives practising in the United Kingdom, 2nd ed. UKCC, LondonGoogle Scholar
  46. Webb C 1985a Barriers to sympathy. Nursing Mirror 160(1): 5–7Google Scholar
  47. Webb C 1985b Nurses’ attitudes to therapeutic abortion. Nursing Times 81(1): 44–7PubMedGoogle Scholar
  48. White M P, Reynolds B, Evans T T 1984 Handling of death in special care nurseries and parental grief. British Medical Journal 289: 167–9PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Suggested Further Reading

  1. Beckey R D, Price R A, Okerson M, Riley K W 1985 Development of a perinatal grief checklist. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic and Neonatal Nursing 1985 14(3): 194–99CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. David D L, Stewart M, Harmon R J 1988 Perinatal loss: providing emotional support for bereaved parents. Birth 15(4): 242–46CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Gardner S L, Morenstein G B 1986 Perinatal grief and loss: an overview. Neonatal Network 5(2): 7–15PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Health Education Bureau and SANDS A little lifetime. A booklet for parents whose babies have died around the time of birth. Health Education Bureau and SANDS, IrelandGoogle Scholar
  5. Jolly J 1988 Missed beginnings. Austen Cornish for the Lisa Sainsbury Trust, LondonGoogle Scholar
  6. Kubier-Ross E 1970 On death and dying. Tavistock Publications, LondonGoogle Scholar
  7. Lewis E, Bryan E 1988 Management of perinatal loss of twins. British Medical Journal 297: 1321 (M) 1613 (C)PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Oakley A, McPherson A, Roberts H 1984 Miscarriage. Fontana, LondonGoogle Scholar
  9. Parkes C M 1972 Bereavement: studies of grief in adult life. Penguin Books, HarmondsworthGoogle Scholar
  10. Penson J 1990 Bereavement: a guide for nurses: Chapter 6. Harper and Row, LondonGoogle Scholar
  11. Rice M 1982 Bereavement counselling: support available for the bereaved. Unpublished report of study leave. In RCM libraryGoogle Scholar
  12. Roch S 1987 Sharing the grief. Nursing Times 83(14): 52–3PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Speck P 1978 Loss and grief in medicine. Baillière Tindall, LondonGoogle Scholar
  14. Tickner V J 1989 Counselling skills in midwifery practice. In Bennett V R, Brown L K (eds) Myles textbook for midwives (11th ed). Churchill Livingstone, EdinburghGoogle Scholar
  15. Tschudin V 1987 Counselling skills for nurses (2nd ed). Baillière Tindall, LondonGoogle Scholar
  16. Walker C 1982 Attitudes to death and bereavement among cultural minority groups. Nursing Times 78(50): 2106–09PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Margaret Adams and Joyce Prince 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Margaret Adams
  • Joyce Prince

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations