Impact of prior perinatal loss on subsequent pregnancies: a bibliographic review
Marta de Gracia de Gregorio
Psychologist, Hospital Universitari de Bellvitge, Barcelona, Spain
Many believe that becoming pregnant again after a perinatal loss from miscarriage, stillbirth, or neonatal death will ease a parent’s grief, wipe away the sad memories of loss, and make a woman smile again. However, pregnancy after perinatal loss is increasingly recognized as a psychologically stressful period of time.
A bibliographic review was made in the Pubmed online databases, on March of 2019. The keywords for the search were the following: pregnancy, perinatal loss, grief.
Although parents had differing responses at the time of the loss, all described similar emotions during the current pregnancy which they attributed to the previous loss. These emotions included increased concern related to the outcome of the current pregnancy, a heightened sense of risk since the loss, a realization that something could go wrong with the current pregnancy, and a need for increased vigilance. Additionally, a relationship has been demonstrated between anxiety during pregnancy and developing prenatal attachment. The parents in these studies had many anxieties related to the outcome of subsequent pregnancies. Regardless of the timing of the loss or the investment in the previous pregnancy, a greater need to monitor the progress of the current pregnancy and a hesitancy to anticipate a positive outcome was reported.
Understanding how parents experience a subsequent pregnancy after perinatal loss can also assist nurses in addressing the specific needs of parents themselves during the next pregnancy. Teaching coping strategies to be used in subsequent pregnancies could help parents to acquire a greater sense of control during this stressful experience for his family. If higher levels of anxiety can diminish prenatal attachment, this is an important clue for nurses in their care of families who have experienced a loss.
No ethics approval required.