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Keywords:

  • fetal death;
  • infant death;
  • obstetric nurses;
  • perinatal loss;
  • secondary analysis

ABSTRACT

Objective

To discover the impact of perinatal loss on obstetric nurses.

Design

In the parent study, obstetric nurses were provided with an open-ended statement asking them to describe in writing the experience of being present during a traumatic childbirth. For this study, a secondary qualitative analysis was performed on those cases in which a perinatal loss was described as traumatic to answer new research questions.

Participants

A total of 464 cases were included in the parent study; 150 cases included either fetal or infant death. Of those, 91 cases had rich descriptions that we analyzed for this study.

Methods

The data were analyzed using Krippendorff's (2013) method for qualitative content analysis. Responses were clustered to allow themes to emerge. Nurses’ experiences of fetal and infant loss were analyzed individually and then compared and contrasted for overarching themes.

Results

Six themes emerged from the fetal and infant loss experiences, with the final overarching themes from perinatal loss including getting through the shift, symptoms of pain and loss, frustrations with inadequate care, showing genuine care, recovering from traumatic experience, and never forgetting.

Conclusion

Perinatal loss can have a lasting effect on nurses, and thus continued support may be needed.