University of Limerick
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Parents experiences of pregnancy following perinatal loss: An integrative review

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-04-26, 10:11 authored by Gemma Donegan, Maria Noonan, Carmel BradshawCarmel Bradshaw

Background: Pregnancy following perinatal loss has a profound effect on parents and may contribute to intense psychological distress including grief, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression. The subsequent pregnancy may also be perceived as more stressful due to the fear of recurrent loss. Midwives and other health care professionals need to be sensitive and empathetic to the needs of these parents when providing care in a pregnancy subsequent to a loss. Methodology: The aim of this integrated literature review was to explore parents’ experiences of pregnancy following a previous perinatal loss using a systematic approach. This is presented in a five-stage process that includes problem identification, literature search, data extraction and evaluation, data analysis and presentation of results. A systematic search of seven electronic databases was conducted (Jan 2009 -Jan 2023) to identify relevant primary research which addressed parents’ experiences of pregnancy following a previous perinatal loss. Seven papers met the eligibility criteria and were assessed for quality using Crowe’s Critical Appraisal Tool (CCAT). Thematic analysis identified two themes. Findings: The key themes identified from the literature were; the psychosocial needs and challenges faced by previously bereaved parents in subsequent pregnancies; and the need for specialist care and support in a subsequent pregnancy. Psychological needs and challenges included continued grief, depression, anxiety, and disparities in the grief process between men and women. The importance of specialist care with an increased level of support from competent, confident and compassionate health care providers was highlighted. Conclusion: The experience of pregnancy following a perinatal loss can be a complex emotional experience for parents. The review identifies the need for post pregnancy loss debriefing and counselling and care pathways specific to caring for women and their partners in a pregnancy subsequent to a perinatal loss. Care in pregnancy subsequent to loss should be provided by empathetic, competent health care providers and include additional antenatal clinic appointments, pregnancy monitoring and psychological support in order to meet the needs of these expectant parents. 



Midwifery 121, 103673



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