The Impact of Previous Perinatal Loss on Subsequent Pregnancy and Parenting
Abstract:The loss of any pregnancy through miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, stillbirth, or neonatal death presents as a significant life crisis for any woman and has far-reaching implications into a couple's future aspirations. Planning another pregnancy after dealing with a perinatal loss is difficult and plagued by ambivalence, doubts, and insecurities. Despite this ambivalence, a majority of women do become pregnant within a year following a perinatal loss. Four recurring issues surrounding perinatal loss and subsequent pregnancy have been identified in this literature review: the effect of the grief process on the subsequent pregnancy; parental coping mechanisms during the subsequent pregnancy; replacement or vulnerable child syndrome; and parenting issues with the subsequent live-born child. Issues surrounding anxiety as a coping mechanism during a pregnancy following a perinatal loss are documented consistently in the literature; however, less is known about the impact that a loss has on parenting behaviors with subsequent children. Further research is imperative to examine these issues in more detail so that evidence-based practices can be established and updated. Health care providers are in a unique position to assist these couples in dealing with the issues that a perinatal loss may place on subsequent pregnancies. By providing a reassuring and supportive environment, women can achieve a positive pregnancy outcome with the correct tools to decrease anxiety and enhance attachment to the subsequent healthy child.
Document Type: Standard Article
Affiliations: ELIZABETH LAMB is a women's health and family nurse practitioner at Virginia Commonwealth University Health System in Richmond, Virginia. She is currently working in the specialty field of urogynecology.
Publication date: 2002-04-01
- The Journal of Perinatal Education is the official journal of Lamaze International, whose mission is to promote, support, and protect natural, safe, and healthy birth through education and advocacy. The journal publishes peer-reviewed articles and evidence-based, practical resources that childbirth educators and other health care professionals can use to enhance the quality and effectiveness of their care or teaching to prepare expectant parents for birth.
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