A comparison of women's memories of care during pregnancy, labour and delivery after stillbirth or live birth

Midwifery. 1998 Jun;14(2):111-7. doi: 10.1016/s0266-6138(98)90008-0.


Objective: To compare women's reports of aspects of their care during pregnancy, labour and delivery following stillbirth and live birth.

Design: Data were collected by postal questionnaire in 1994.

Setting: A Swedish nation-wide population-based study of cohorts defined in 1991.

Participants: Three hundred and fourteen women with stillbirth (subjects) and 322 women with live birth (controls).

Measurements and findings: Labour and delivery were assessed as physically 'insufferably hard' by 52 (17%) of the subjects and 33 (10%) of the controls. The corresponding figures for emotional strains were 144 (47%) and 21 (7%). Obstetric analgesia was more frequently used during labour for stillbirth. One hundred and thirty-eight (44%) subjects, as compared to 44 (2%) of the controls, left hospital within 24 hours of birth. Almost all the women with stillbirth 296 (95%) stated that it was important to have an explanation of the baby's death. Adverse events related to bromocriptine given to inhibit postpartum lactation, were reported by 60 (22%) of the subjects.

Key conclusions: It is possible to ease the distress of labour and delivery for stillbirth. Discussion of the aetiology of the baby's death with the mother should be a priority. The optimal length of stay in hospital after stillbirth remains to be defined. Non-pharmacological inhibition of lactation may be presented as an alternative to bromocriptine, breast binding is a concrete 'reality confrontation' for the woman and may aid her in her grieving process. Further studies concerning breast binding vs pharmacological inhibition of lactation and long-term psychological outcome are warranted.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Delivery, Obstetric / methods
  • Delivery, Obstetric / psychology*
  • Female
  • Fetal Death* / etiology
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Labor, Obstetric / psychology*
  • Memory*
  • Mothers / education
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods
  • Population Surveillance
  • Pregnancy / psychology*
  • Prenatal Care* / methods
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Sweden