Reclaiming a moral identity: stillbirth, stigma and ‘moral mothers’.
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to understand the effect of expectant motherhood discourses on parents who suffer a stillbirth.
a qualitative, exploratory study using in-depth interviews to understand parental experience of stillbirth.
interviews took place in the homes of bereaved parents across several English health authorities.
10 couples and 12 mothers who had experienced a stillbirth.
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.
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.
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