The role of caregivers after a stillbirth: views and experiences of parents

Birth. 2004 Jun;31(2):132-7. doi: 10.1111/j.0730-7659.2004.00291.x.


Background: The clinical role of the caregiver to parents in the event of a stillbirth has yet to be defined. The aim of this paper was to focus on the caregivers' support as revealed by the parents' experiences.

Method: One or both parents of 31 stillborn infants (> or =28 weeks) were interviewed twice, for a total of 57 interviews. The data analysis was conducted using a qualitative approach.

Results: Parents identified the caregivers' behavior and handling of the stillbirth as important. Findings showed that caregivers should support parents in moments of chaos and at other difficult times. The parents needed assistance in both facing and separating from the baby. The six "qualities" that summarized the findings were "support in chaos,""support in the meeting with and separation from the baby,""support in bereavement,""explanation of the stillbirth,""organization of the care," and "understanding the nature of grief." Findings indicate that the hospital is under an obligation to organize the care and make it possible for parents to see the same caregivers again, and to offer extra ultrasound investigations and checkups without unnecessary bureaucracy.

Conclusion: We suggest that the "qualities" identified by the study findings should be implemented in clinical care, and could facilitate active guidance and counseling for bereaved parents who have experienced a stillbirth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Anecdotes as Topic
  • Bereavement*
  • Caregivers* / psychology
  • Female
  • Fetal Death
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome / psychology*
  • Quality of Life
  • Social Support
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Sweden
  • Time Factors