Analyses of Listening to Parents study of parents’ experience of care after stillbirth or the death of their baby after birth

Mothers’ experience of maternity and neonatal care when babies die: a quantitative study was published in PlosOne on 5th December 2018.

There is considerable concern about the impact of the death of a baby on parents’ psychological and physical health and the way in which they are cared for at the time of the death and subsequently. The UK Department of Health funded Listening to Parents study focused on this aspect of maternity care.

This latest paper on women whose babies died soon after birth is one of a series of papers using data from Listening to Parents, a population-based study of parents whose baby died as a stillbirth or shortly after birth in 2012-131. Two previous papers focused on the experience of stillbirth for women living in deprived areas2 who have a higher incidence of stillbirth, and parent’s experience of the post-mortem process following stillbirth3

This study focussed on the 249 mothers who completed the survey about their child’s neonatal death. Half of these babies were born very early, at 28 weeks’ of pregnancy or less, and some died on delivery suite, though two thirds were admitted to a neonatal unit.  A quarter of mothers said that they were left alone and worried during labour and only half felt sufficiently involved in decision-making at this time. After the birth, half were not cared for away from healthy mothers and babies, half could not have their partner stay with them, and a similar proportion were not in a ward or room close to their baby. Many mothers reported not feeling sufficiently informed about their baby’s condition, and that neonatal staff were not always aware of parental needs. However, most were positive about neonatal unit care overall.

Further analyses are planned exploring women’s experiences in relation to stillbirth and neonatal death in their own words.

1. Redshaw M, Rowe R, Henderson J. Listening to Parents after stillbirth or the death of their baby after birth. Oxford: National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit; 2014.

2. Redshaw M, Henderson J. Care associated with stillbirth for the most disadvantaged women: A multi-method study of care in England. Birth. 2018;45:275‐285

3. Henderson J, Redshaw M. Parents’ experience of perinatal post-mortem following stillbirth: A mixed methods study. PLOS ONE. 2017;12(6):e0178475.