Parents coping with stillbirth: Detachment or attachment?

Yaira Hamama Raz, Miriam Peled, Shlomit Perry, Rachel Raz, Moshe Hod

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Stillbirth, a major crisis for parents, is marked by strong emotional, mental and behavioral reactions. Coping with and adjusting to the loss is instantaneous at the moment when parents are told that there is no heartbeat. At once they are forced to make three difficult decisions: Should they look at or hold their dead baby? Give consent to an autopsy? Bury the baby on their own? These most crucial decisions will haye an impact on the recuperation process, both in the short and long term. This article presents findings of a pilot study conducted in a hospital center for women's medicine, which focused on these issues. The findings show that most parents prefer not to see the baby, tend to refuse autopsy and want the hospital to make the burial arrangements. The significance of the findings is discussed in reference to the three content areas of stillbirth that interact with one another: death and grief, the trauma, and the medical problem. These content areas emphasize the complexity of the event, and bring to the fore the dilemmas which must be faced in each decision, signaling a need for multidisciplinary support. The conclusions indicate a need for differing support approaches for each couple, rather than one overall policy. It is important to identify the particular needs of each couple as well as provide the proper responses for each couple, even for each spouse, and to assign a multidisciplinary team to support the parents' lengthy adjustment process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)418-422+471
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Coping
  • Parental loss
  • Stillbirth


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