Psychiatric aspects of perinatal loss

by Dr William Badenhorst

Psychiatric aspects of perinatal lossI have lost two or three infants, not without regret, but with no great sorrow’ (Montaigne, 1685).

 

Four centuries on, Montaigne’s comment seems shocking. So what has changed?

 

Perinatal loss – a common event in Montaigne’s age – has become much rarer in wealthy societies due to the general improvements in health, the introduction of antibiotics in the 20th century and the tendency towards the medical management of childbirth. As a result in wealthier societies today, the loss of a baby around the time of childbirth is an unexpected tragedy.

 

This module aims to summarise the relevant literature on grief, loss and mourning in general and as applied to the experience of perinatal loss. We consider the immediate and long-term effects of such losses on parents and siblings, the rationale for current medical management (as well as a critique of current practices) and the potential role for a psychiatrist in helping bereaved parents and the teams providing their care.

 

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If you like this module, you may also be interested in:

 

Bereavement by Dr Colin Parkes

 

Psychiatric aspects of terminal care by Dr John Mitchell

 

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