Objective: To assess the frequency of additional care, and parents’ perceptions of quality, respectful care in pregnancies subsequent to stillbirth.
Design: Multi-language web-based survey
Population: 2,716 parents, from 40 high- and middle-income countries
Methods: Data were obtained from a broader survey of parents’ experiences of stillbirth. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and stratified by geographical region. Subgroup analyses explored variation in additional care by gestational age at index stillbirth.
Main outcome measures: Frequency of additional care, and perceptions of quality, respectful care.
Results: The majority (66%) of parents conceived their subsequent pregnancy within one year of stillbirth. Additional antenatal care visits and ultrasound scans were provided for 67% and 70% of all parents, respectively, although there was wide variation across geographical regions. Care addressing psychosocial needs was less frequently provided, such as visits to a bereavement counsellor (10%) and access to named care provider’s phone number (27%). Compared to parents whose stillbirth occurred at 29 weeks’ gestation or less, parents whose stillbirth occurred at 30 weeks’ gestation or greater were more likely to receive various forms of additional care, particularly the option for early delivery after 37 weeks. Around half (47-63%) of all parents felt that elements of quality, respectful care were consistently applied, such as spending enough time with parents and involving parents in decision-making.
Conclusions: Care in pregnancies subsequent to stillbirth appears inconsistent. Greater attention is required to providing thoughtful, empathic, and collaborative care in all pregnancies following stillbirth. Training for health professionals is needed.