Perinatal grief and emotional labour: a studyof nurses’ experiences in gynae wards

Bernadette McCreight

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Death through pregnancyloss is a tragedywhich touches nursing staff as well as parents. Exposed to the intense emotions of parents, nurses must simultaneouslymanage their own emotions. This paper explores how nurses, through the use of personal narratives, develop and construct meanings around the professionallydefined, but personally experienced, event of pregnancyloss. The methodologywas based on in-depth interviews with fourteen nurses working in gynaecological units in Northern Ireland. The author, through the exploration of the nurse’s perspective, concludesthat emotion can be conceived of as a valid resource for professionals when integrated into a nurse’s matrix of professional understandings. In addition, the studyalso demonstrates that value should be attached to emotional work which maynot be fullyvisible, particularly for nurses working in gynaecological units. The emotional needs of nurses need to be fullyacknowledged through recognition of the importance of managed emotion in the construction ofprofessional knowledge. There is, therefore, strong justification for supporting the recognition of the importance of emotion in the development of nurse education policies and in valuing aspects of nursing practice that mayhave been marginalized.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)439-448
JournalInternational Journal of Nursing Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - Dec 2005


  • Nurses
  • Emotional labour
  • Narrative
  • Pregnancy loss


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