Notwithstanding advances in maternity care, babies die around the time of their birth and the reasons
can be varied (National Perinatal Epidemiology Centre 2010). Annual perinatal statistics reveal that
there is an average of 350 stillborn infants in the Republic of Ireland (Stillbirth rate of 4.8 per 1,000
births) (NPEC 2010). These figures also show 2% of multiparous women record a history of previous
stillbirths. There are health services implications in supporting these women in their subsequent
services can be tailored to best suit their needs rather than providing a universal care approach.
A systematic search strategy was conducted to include relevant studies.
A total of 22 (10 quantitative, 1 mixed methods and 11 qualitative studies) studies met the inclusion
The themes that emerged from the quantitative studies were on-going mental health considerations for
women including depression; prolonged grief; Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Coping, Fear and
Anxiety in Subsequent pregnancy.
The themes that emerged from the qualitative studies included fear, anxiety and grief during the
subsequent pregnancy; restrained expectations or intentionality of parenting and care issues in
Women are aware that their perceptions of pregnancy are forever altered by their experiences of
stillbirth and that this may result in hyper-vigilance and emotional distancing or conversely intentional
parenting of their unborn child. Women who utilised additional support measures found them to be
Implications for Practice:
Healthcare professionals need to be aware of the importance of empathetic, supportive, continuous
midwifery care, as women may need to address and relinquish existing coping mechanisms in order to
interact with their new pregnancy.