Perinatal Loss: a qualitative study in Northern Ireland

Bernadette Susan McCreight

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: This paper describes the experiences of women in Northern Ireland who have experienced a miscarriage or stillbirth. Pregnancy loss encompasses several dimensions of loss for women, loss of the future, loss of self-identity, and the loss of anticipated parenthood. The study explored how women emotionally responded to loss and the care they received from medical staff. Burial arrangements for the remains of the baby are also explored. Design: The methodology adopted a narrative approach based upon in-depth interviews with 23 women who attended pregnancy loss self-help groups. Results: The women’s narratives highlight their emotional responses to loss, the medicalization of perinatal grief, and burial arrangements. Women felt that their experience was emotionally negative in that they had been subjected to a rationalising process of medicalization. The primary focus for the women was on the need to recover space for their emotions and seek acceptance and recognition of the validity of their grief. Conclusion: The study demonstrated that the women’s response to being marginalized led them to make sense of their experiences and to create spaces of resistance to medicalization. The way in which women placed emotion at the centre of their narratives is taken to be a powerful indicator that the support they require from professionals should take account of the meanings they have constructed from their experience of loss.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-19
JournalOMEGA: Journal of Death and Dying
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2008


  • Medicalization
  • pregnancy loss
  • narrative
  • women’s experiences
  • life-world


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