Maternal grieving response after perinatal death

Med J Aust. 1986 Mar 17;144(6):287-9. doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.1986.tb128375.x.


The nature and incidence of psychological and related physical disturbances were investigated in 110 mothers who had lost a child in the perinatal period. The mothers were interviewed six to 36 months after their loss. The demographic characteristics, hospital experiences, effects of bereavement and perceived social support system of the women were assessed. A pathological bereavement outcome, which was defined as a marked deterioration in health and evidence of increased social adjustment problems, was identified in 21% of the women. A pathological bereavement outcome was found to be related to two main factors--a reported crisis during pregnancy and the perceived support of the husband and/or family. Whether the mother saw but did not hold her baby was also a factor. These results suggest that the loss of a baby may have at least as severe an effect on a woman as the death of her husband. The implication of these findings is that women who are at risk of a pathological outcome of bereavement may be identified soon after their loss.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Death*
  • Female
  • Fetal Death*
  • Grief*
  • Handling, Psychological
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Life Change Events
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Mental Disorders / etiology
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Risk
  • Social Support