Swedish Parents’ Experiences of Parenthood and the Need for Support to Siblings When a Baby is Stillborn

Authors

  • Pernilla Avelin RN, MNursSci,

    1. Pernilla Avelin is a Doctoral Student in the Department of Women’s and Children’s Health, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm; Kerstin Erlandsson is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Health, Care and Social Welfare, Mälardalen University, Västerås; Ingegerd Hildingsson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Health Sciences, Mid Sweden University, Sundsvall; and Ingela Rådestad is a Professor at Sophiahemmet University College, Stockholm, Sweden.
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  • Kerstin Erlandsson RNM, PhD,

    1. Pernilla Avelin is a Doctoral Student in the Department of Women’s and Children’s Health, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm; Kerstin Erlandsson is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Health, Care and Social Welfare, Mälardalen University, Västerås; Ingegerd Hildingsson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Health Sciences, Mid Sweden University, Sundsvall; and Ingela Rådestad is a Professor at Sophiahemmet University College, Stockholm, Sweden.
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  • Ingegerd Hildingsson RNM,

    1. Pernilla Avelin is a Doctoral Student in the Department of Women’s and Children’s Health, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm; Kerstin Erlandsson is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Health, Care and Social Welfare, Mälardalen University, Västerås; Ingegerd Hildingsson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Health Sciences, Mid Sweden University, Sundsvall; and Ingela Rådestad is a Professor at Sophiahemmet University College, Stockholm, Sweden.
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  • Ingela Rådestad RNM

    1. Pernilla Avelin is a Doctoral Student in the Department of Women’s and Children’s Health, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm; Kerstin Erlandsson is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Health, Care and Social Welfare, Mälardalen University, Västerås; Ingegerd Hildingsson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Health Sciences, Mid Sweden University, Sundsvall; and Ingela Rådestad is a Professor at Sophiahemmet University College, Stockholm, Sweden.
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  • The Swedish Inheritance Fund, Stockholm, Sweden, provided financial support for this study.

Address correspondence to Pernilla Avelin, RN, MNursSci, School of Health, Care and Social Welfare, Mälardalen University, Box 883, SE-721 23 Västerås, Sweden.

Abstract

Abstract:  Background:  It has been argued that having a stillborn baby in the family affects older siblings more than parents realize. The aim of this study was to describe parenthood and the needs of siblings after stillbirth from the parents’ perspective.

Methods:  Six focus groups were held with 27 parents who had experienced a stillbirth and who had had children before the loss. The discussion concerned parents’ support to the siblings, and the sibling’s meeting, farewell, and memories of their little sister or brother. Data were analyzed using qualitative content analysis.

Results:  The overall theme of the findings was parenthood in a balance between grief and everyday life. In the analysis, three categories emerged that described the construction of the theme: support in an acute situation, sharing the experiences within the family, and adjusting to the situation.

Conclusions:  The siblings’ situation is characterized by having a parent who tries to maintain a balance between grief and everyday life. Parents are present and engaged in joint activities around the stillbirth together with the siblings of the stillborn baby. Although parents are aware of the sibling’s situation, they feel that they are left somewhat alone in their parenthood after stillbirth and therefore need support and guidance from others. (BIRTH 38:2 June 2011)

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