1st Edition

Midwives Coping with Loss and Grief Stillbirth, Professional and Personal Losses

By Doreen Kenworthy, Mavis Kirkham Copyright 2011

    The experience of stillbirth and other losses in pregnancy at what is usually a time of great joy is tragic for everyone involved, including midwifery professionals. Although research increasingly shows how profound the effects of loss can be, few studies have explored the effects of pregnancy loss - which often leads to other personal and professional traumas such as loss of autonomy or a workplace - on midwives. This in-depth investigation uses a phenomenological approach to capture midwives' experiences of loss and grief in their own words, and encompasses both pregnancy loss and wider professional and personal issues. It then makes recommendations to enhance midwives' resilience and ability to cope appropriately, whilst giving maximum support to their clients. Reflections on the emerging implications for midwifery education and practice further broaden the scope of the analysis. The insights in this book will be of great use to midwifery managers and supervisors. They will also help midwives to nurture themselves, their colleagues and their clients at a time when pressures on the service can leave support lacking. The devastating experience of losing a baby for women and their families is something that, as midwives, we strive to understand in order to provide appropriate practical and emotional support. Doreen and Mavis encourage us to consider how we are affected by the grief of others at a deeply personal level. Ultimately the message in this book is one of hope: through reflection and the sharing of experiences midwives who have been with women whose babies have died can regain their personal strength and learn to re-shape memories in ways that contribute to personal growth and understanding.A" - From the Foreword by Nicky Leap

    The story of the research. Background. Stained glass windows: stillbirth memories and their impact on midwives. The silent womb: perceptions of death and midwives’ responses. A stillbirth was given to me today: professional pressures, conflict and perceived roles. Communicating with the mother: an emotional labour. Taking the blame and feeling the guilt. Listen to me, for we all need a degree of closure. Independent midwives’ responses to stillbirths and neonatal deaths. Making sense of experiences around stillbirth. Loss in midwifery: the wider context and ways forward


    Doreen Kenworthy, Mavis Kirkham