Psychological aspects of perinatal loss

Best Pract Res Clin Obstet Gynaecol. 2007 Apr;21(2):249-59. doi: 10.1016/j.bpobgyn.2006.11.004. Epub 2006 Dec 28.


After perinatal loss, parents experience painful grief. Fathers and mothers show the same pattern of symptoms, but generally mothers' distress is more intense. Grief should be sympathetically acknowledged by health professionals, and parents should be reassured that their feelings are normal and that recovery may take many months. Intense depression lasting more than 6 months may require psychological treatment. There is some evidence that delaying conception for a year may allow an easier pregnancy psychologically. The common practice of encouraging parents to have contact with a dead infant is not evidence-based and may have adverse effects, including inducing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. A protocol of postnatal follow-up allows parents to get appropriate information about the loss, including possible problems and timing of another pregnancy. The subsequent pregnancy is stressful, and health professionals should recognize that parents may suffer significant anxiety.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Grief*
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Stillbirth / psychology*