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Title: Exploring the impact of stillbirth on mothers
Author: Campbell-Jackson , Louise
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2012
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Stillbirth is a unique and complex bereavement comprising many losses. Research suggests that the experience of stillbirth may affect the wider family system, including couples relationships or may impact the attachment relationship to the baby born subsequently. Over the last 40 years the psychological impact of perinatal loss on women has been explored. However, less is known about the specific experience of stillbirth. It has been argued that psychological theories have not fully explored stillbirth as a unique loss independent from other losses. The systematic review aimed to explore the psychological impact of stillbirth on mothers. Twenty-six articles (qualitative and quantitative) were reviewed addressing the methodological limitations. Despite methodological limitations the findings suggest that the experience of stillbirth can result in high levels of psychological symptoms for mothers, up to 3 years post loss. The qualitative researched echoed the intense grief and long-lasting impact of stillbirth on women. Some risk factors were identified and social support appeared particularly beneficial for women post loss, however further research into risk and protective factors is needed. The empirical paper employed a qualitative methodology (IPA) to explore the lived experience of mothers of having a child subsequent to stillbirth. Five superordinate themes emerged "living with uncertainty"; "coping with uncertainty"; "relationship with the next child"; "the continuing grief process" and "identity of being a mother". The study highlighted challenges experienced by women during pregnancy that appeared to continue when the subsequent child is born, such as living with uncertainty about their child's wellbeing. For some mothers a process of acceptance of the uncertainty appeared to take place. Mothers' coping strategies and the impact of the experience on their identity was also explored. The findings provided insight into the on-going grieving process described by mothers and identified feelings of maternal guilt, which appeared to underlie many of the themes.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Clin.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available