Parents' experience surrounding the death of a newborn whose birth is at the margin of viability

J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs. Jan-Feb 1997;26(1):43-51. doi: 10.1111/j.1552-6909.1997.tb01506.x.


Objective: To describe the experience of parents surrounding the death of a newborn weighing less than 500 g at birth.

Design: Descriptive, using an eidetic phenomenologic approach.

Setting: Interviews were conducted in the parents' homes or by telephone between 4 and 15 weeks after the loss.

Participants: Eight parents (five mothers and three of their husbands) who had experienced the death of a newborn weighing less than 500 g at birth.

Main outcome measures: The lived parental experience of the death of a newborn consists of a number of parental processes, responses, and activities that occur over time.

Results: Five themes were generated from the data: (a) realization that the loss is occurring; (b) initial response to the loss; (c) decision making at the time of the loss; (d) components of supportive relationships with others; and (e) the adjustment at home.

Conclusions: The findings demonstrate the unique experience of having a newborn who is born at the margin of viability and support the need for individualized, caring-based interventions for parents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Death*
  • Decision Making
  • Female
  • Grief*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Very Low Birth Weight*
  • Male
  • Maternal-Child Nursing
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Social Support
  • Surveys and Questionnaires