Talking about life and perinatal death with children in a workshop on pregnancy and childbirth
Contreras García, Manuela (1,2), Ruiz Soto, Beatriz (2,3), Martín Parada, María Lourdes (2)
(1) Co-founder and vice president of the association “El Hueco de mi Vientre. Solidaridad en el duelo perinatal” (“The Hollow in my Womb. Solidarity in Perinatal Loss”), (2) Midwife at The Marqués de Valdecilla University Hospital, Santander, Spain; (3) Co-founder and member of the association “El Hueco de mi Vientre. Solidaridad en el duelo perinatal” “The Hollow in my Womb. Solidarity in Perinatal Loss”).
Death is a taboo subject both in society and at school. Perinatal death even more so. Both children and society as a whole could benefit from a pedagogy that deals with death. This could contribute to the development of greater resilience amongst bereaved individuals and society. Pedagogy of death is an emergent approach with few pedagogical resources in which teachers has a scarce academic training. Could a workshop on pregnancy and childbirth, given by midwives, be an appropriate teaching resource?
A descriptive phenomelogical study. We interviewed 22 teachers whose 6 to 12 year old students had received a workshop on pregnancy and childbirth. The objective was that the teachers would describe the perceptions of the workshops in which prematurity and perinatal death are the subject matter. Data collection was done through individual semi-structured interviews of the teaching staff. The analysis took the four categories of topics discussed in the interview into account: training elements, impact on children, pedagogical resources used and conversations on perinatal death and prematurity.
Teachers perceived that the workshop helps children to comprehend the process of pregnancy and childbirth and provides them with the tools to confront the death of a loved one. They considered the way of dealing with perinatal life and death in the workshop were “very natural and positive” and the children’s reaction as well. Through the workshop, the majority of the teachers realized the necessity of introducing or strengthening the pedagogy of death in the classroom, for which they perceive a lack of training and resources.
From the teachers’ perspective, the workshop is a suitable resource for both prenatal and death pedagogy, which contributes to fight the taboo that revolves around death and the protectionism towards children in our society.
The study received approval from the Clinical Research Ethics Committee of Cantabria.
Interviews are conducted with prior consent.
Perinatal loss. Stillbirth. Grief. Siblings. Death education. School