Reclaiming a moral identity: stillbirth, stigma and ‘moral mothers’

Murphy, Samantha (2012). Reclaiming a moral identity: stillbirth, stigma and ‘moral mothers’. Midwifery, 28(4) pp. 476–480.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.midw.2011.06.005

Abstract

Objectives
to understand the effect of expectant motherhood discourses on parents who suffer a stillbirth.

Design
a qualitative, exploratory study using in-depth interviews to understand parental experience of stillbirth.

Setting
interviews took place in the homes of bereaved parents across several English health authorities.

Participants
10 couples and 12 mothers who had experienced a stillbirth.

Findings
mothers were keen to distance themselves from behaviour that might be seen as stigmatising, that is, smoking, drinking, etc., while pregnant. Fathers, while keen to stress that their partners had behaved well in pregnancy, made no such claims.

Key conclusions
stillbirth constitutes a threat to a maternal ‘moral’ identity, which results in a differential experience of loss for mothers than for fathers.

Implications for practise
comprehending that the experience of stillbirth might lead the mother to feel that her identity as a ‘moral mother’ is under threat is essential in understanding the maternal experience of stillbirth.

Viewing alternatives

Download history

Metrics

Public Attention

Altmetrics from Altmetric

Number of Citations

Citations from Dimensions

Item Actions

Export

About

Recommendations