Relation between grief and subsequent pregnancy status 13 months after perinatal bereavement

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Abstract

Aims

The present longitudinal study sought to explore the relationship between parental grief following perinatal bereavement and subsequent pregnancy, according to the particular facets of grief and pregnancy state being considered.

Method

The study participants were 63 couples who had been bereaved by stillbirth (n = 31) or neonatal death (n = 32). The relationship of self-reported grief (Perinatal Grief Scale-33 Active Grief, Difficulty Coping and Despair) 1 month and 13 months after the loss to subsequent pregnancy status (Pregnant, n = 20, Live Baby, n = 10, Trying, n = 11, Not Trying, n = 22) at 13 months was investigated with repeated measures analysis of variance.

Results

There were statistically significant main effects for Active Grief and Difficulty Coping in women and men and Despair in women, but not in men. There was a statistically significant Active Grief by pregnancy status interactio1n in women (F(3, 59) = 2.89, P = 0.04), but not in men. Simple main effects analysis indicated a statistically significant decrease in Active Grief in women who were pregnant (F(1, 59) = 52.8, P < 0.0005), women who were not pregnant and not trying to conceive (F(1, 59) = 27.5, P < 0.0005), and women who had had a live baby (F(1, 59) = 9.62, P = 0.003). There was no statistically significant decrease in Active Grief in women who were not pregnant but trying to conceive (F(1, 59) = 3.44, P = 0.07). The Difficulty Coping in women and men and Despair in women by pregnancy status interactions were not statistically significant. None of the between-subjects main effects for pregnancy status was statistically significant in women or men.

Conclusion

The relation between grief and subsequent pregnancy differed with the sex of the parent and the particular facets of grief and pregnancy state being considered. Subsequent pregnancy was related to Active Grief in women, but not to Difficulty Coping or Despair that are known to be predictors of chronic grief.

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