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A midwife's reflective writing in lactation and grief

02 December 2023
Volume 31 · Issue 12


Midwifery is not just about life and joy; unfortunately, at times it also involves death, sorrow and grief. The death of a baby and subsequent grief is complex, and involves grieving the baby's life as well as the life that parents have imagined with their child, including their role as parents. Pregnancy and baby loss have devastating effects on women and their families; expecting life and meeting death leave a profound emptiness. Perinatal death can include miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal death. Lactation in these circumstances has been described by bereaved mothers as a healing therapy, and although there is some published evidence on this topic, further research will be necessary. This article was written based on the author's personal and professional experience, combined with current evidence, following Gibbs' reflective cycle, which provides a structured approach to learning from experiences. The aim is to create awareness of the importance of giving women the opportunity to decide how to manage their lactation and to speak about a topic that, unfortunately, is still taboo.

I am a midwife with 14 years' experience, and I have encountered cases of miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal death throughout my career. Perinatal loss can have a devastating impact on women and their families, leaving them with a profound sense of grief and emptiness (Gandino et al, 2019). However, when your own life journey places you on the other side, and you are the new mother suffering the loss, I found that you experience it in a way that empowers you to change the world. In my opinion, trauma following perinatal loss can lead to depression but also to regrowth and learning. Research and anecdotal literature indicates that personal pregnancy loss can have a lasting impact on a healthcare professional's life (Musodza et al, 2023). However, there is limited literature available on midwives' experiences in perinatal loss (Musodza et al, 2023).

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