Aim To provide an in-depth understanding of the experiences of parents who have had a loss from a multiple pregnancy.
Method A qualitative study involving semi -structured interviews. Participants were recruited from a Special Care Baby Unit and a Fetal Medicine department from within the same NHS tertiary hospital. Fourteen parents who had experienced a loss in pregnancy or the neonatal period were interviewed. Data were analysed using a generative thematic approach.
Results Parents described feelings of both grief for the loss of their baby and joy at the birth of survivors. This ‘rollercoaster’ of emotions impacted significantly upon parents’ needs whilst in hospital. Firstly, they valued highly the emotional work of those health professionals who acknowledged their bereavement. They also valued continuity of staff care, which allowed parents to build up supportive relationships of trust over time. Secondly, due to the trauma of their loss, coupled with anxiety over the survival of sick siblings, parents felt they had been unable to make fully informed decisions concerning their demised baby. This often left them with feelings of regret.
Conclusion Parents who lose a baby from a multiple pregnancy have a specific set of needs which differ from parents who have a singleton loss. As bereaved parents can remain in hospital for many weeks whilst surviving siblings are cared for, the emotional work of health professionals proved crucial to their experiences. The trauma of their bereavement however, was acknowledged by parents as impacting upon their ability to make informed decisions.
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