Knowing how to help: Grandmothers’ experiences of providing and receiving support following their child's pregnancy loss

Jane Lockton, Melissa Oxlad, Clemence Due

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Problem: Pregnancy loss is a distressing experience for parents, however no research has addressed grandmothers’ experiences of grief and support following a child's pregnancy loss. Background: No research has specifically addressed grandmothers’ experiences of support and bereavement care following pregnancy loss. Aim: This study seeks to understand three key areas: (1) the support grandmothers provide to their child; (2) the support they received themselves following pregnancy loss, and; (3) supports desired by grandmothers. The study aims to contribute insights into actions midwives could take to support grandmothers following pregnancy loss. Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 14 grandmothers to understand their support experiences. Interviews were analysed using Braun and Clarke's approach to thematic analysis. Findings: Themes related directly to the three research questions: one: providing support, comprising two themes — being strong, protecting their family and the challenges of knowing how to help. Two, receiving support, also comprised two themes — lack of professional support offered to grandmothers and informal support and self-support strategies. Three, desired support, comprised three themes — I had no idea: increasing knowledge of pregnancy loss, peer support helps: they know how it feels, and honouring our grandchildren, making meaning. Discussion: Grandmothers may give extensive support to their child following pregnancy loss but lack confidence and face challenges in doing so. Few formal supports are available to grandmothers themselves, with grandmothers relying on their social networks for their own support. Conclusions: Grandmothers need early access to information and guidance from midwives and hospital bereavement services, as well as ongoing peer support with flexible delivery options.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
JournalWomen and Birth
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Grandparents
  • Peer support
  • Pregnancy loss
  • Qualitative research
  • Support needs

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