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Exploring parents' experiences of care in an Irish hospital following second-trimester miscarriage

02 February 2017
Volume 25 · Issue 2



Second-trimester miscarriage is defined as pregnancy loss after 12 and before 24 weeks' gestation. Little is known about parents' experiences of hospital care during a second trimester miscarriage in Ireland.


This study aimed to explore parents' experiences of hospital care during a second-trimester miscarriage.


A focused ethnographic design was used. A series of semi-structured interviews were completed with 14 bereaved parents. The data were analysed using thematic network data analysis.


This paper discusses the global theme of relational and social experiences of miscarriage. Parents highlighted the need for compassionate care and expressed the importance of empathy and sensitivity from hospital staff to avoid further distress.


Compassionate care received by bereaved parents positively influenced their hospital experience, whereas a perceived lack of compassion or insensitivity had a lasting negative impact on bereaved parents.

Second-trimester miscarriage is defined as pregnancy loss after 12 weeks' and before 24 weeks' gestation (Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, (RCOG), 2010). An Irish study found the rate of second-trimester miscarriage to be 0.8% of all births (Cullen et al, 2016). Miscarriage is seen by women as sudden, surprising and an upsetting experience (Murphy and Merrell, 2009). In order to give the best possible care for parents who experience a pregnancy loss, health care providers must consider not only the woman's physical needs but also her and her partner's psychological needs (Schott and Henley, 2007).

There is limited research examining parents' expe riences of hospital care during second-trimester miscarriage. The profound psychological impact of pregnancy loss on a woman (and her partner) and the need for sensitive, individualised care has been high lighted in the literature (Lee, 2012; Downe et al, 2013). Interactions with health professionals are vital to women who experience a pregnancy loss (Rowlands and Lee, 2010). Research has highlighted the need for empathetic communication during pregnancy loss and the importance of sensitivity (Paton et al, 1999; Säflund et al, 2004; Fenwick et al, 2007; Murphy and Merrell, 2009; Musters et al, 2013; Mulvihill and Walsh, 2014). Women who experienced a stillbirth valued interactions with health professionals when they took time to sit with them, used eye contact and showed empathy (Kelley and Trinidad, 2012).

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