Impact of Perinatal Death on the Social and Family Context of the Parents

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 May 14;17(10):3421. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17103421.


Background: Perinatal death (PD) is a painful experience, with physical, psychological and social consequences in families. Each year, there are 2.7 million perinatal deaths in the world and about 2000 in Spain. The aim of this study was to explore, describe and understand the impact of perinatal death on parents' social and family life.

Methods: A qualitative study based on Gadamer's hermeneutic phenomenology was used. In-depth interviews were conducted with 13 mothers and eight fathers who had suffered a perinatal death. Inductive analysis was used to find themes based on the data.

Results: Seven sub-themes emerged, and they were grouped into two main themes: 1) perinatal death affects family dynamics, and 2) the social environment of the parents is severely affected after perinatal death.

Conclusions: PD impacts the family dynamics of the parents and their family, social and work environments. Parents perceive that society trivializes their loss and disallows or delegitimizes their grief.

Implications: Social care, health and education providers should pay attention to all family members who have suffered a PD. The recognition of the loss within the social and family environment would help the families to cope with their grief.

Keywords: disenfranchised grief; parents care; perinatal death; perinatal grief; qualitative research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Fathers
  • Female
  • Grief
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mothers
  • Perinatal Death*
  • Pregnancy
  • Social Support
  • Spain