Experiences of Nurses Who Support Parents During Perinatal Death

J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs. 2021 Sep;50(5):561-567. doi: 10.1016/j.jogn.2021.04.008. Epub 2021 May 18.


Objective: To describe the experience of nurses who support parents during perinatal death, particularly how perinatal death influences the nurse, how the nurse feels when caring for a suffering parent, and how the perinatal death contributes to the nurse's understanding of self.

Design: Descriptive qualitative.

Setting: Four regions of Quebec, Canada.

Participants: Twenty-five nurses from different perinatal clinical and community backgrounds who worked with parents who experienced perinatal death.

Methods: We conducted individual, semistructured interviews during which the participants were given the opportunity to describe what they felt and experienced when they supported parents who experienced perinatal death.

Results: Analysis of the data showed three main themes related to the nurse's experience of perinatal death: Unrealistic Self-Expectations, Self-Denial, and Negative Self-Awareness.

Conclusion: Our results suggest that during perinatal death, nurses want to feel useful and to relieve the suffering of parents. A clear understanding of this experience can help nurses to better understand their own experiences.

Keywords: nurses’ attitude; nurses’ experience; perinatal death; self-awareness; self-denial.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Nurse's Role
  • Nurses*
  • Parents
  • Perception
  • Perinatal Death*
  • Pregnancy
  • Qualitative Research