‘I 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.