Social support: An approach to maintaining the health of women who have experienced stillbirth

Maryam Allahdadian, Alireza Irajpour, Ashraf Kazemi, Gholamreza Kheirabadi



Background: Stillbirth is one of the deepest losses that can inflict a broad range of cognitive, mental, spiritual, and physical turmoil. Many researchers believe that the failure to provide the care required by health teams during the hard times is the main determinant of maternal mental health in the future. In other words, social support can significantly improve the mental health outcomes of mothers after stillbirth. This study aimed to explore social support to aid mothers in adaptation after the experience of stillbirth.

Materials and Methods: This was a qualitative content analysis in which 15 women who had experienced stillbirth participated. They were selected through purposeful sampling method. Data were gathered by individual interviews recorded on audiotapes, transcribed, and analyzed. Interview transcriptions were coded and then classified. Finally, two main categories and five subcategories  emerged.

Results: Analysis of participants’ viewpoints and their statements about social support led to the emergence of the two main categories of support from relatives and support from social support systems with two and three subcategories, respectively. Analysis of findings showed that mothers experiencing stillbirth need the support of their spouse and family and friends through sympathizing, in performing everyday activities and to escape loneliness. These women require support from a peer group to exchange experiences and from trauma counseling centers to meet their needs.

Conclusions: It seems necessary to revise and modify the care plan in the experience of stillbirth using these results and, of course, to be considered by a panel of experts in order to provide social support to these women. Thus, midwives and healthcare provider can act, based on the development and strengthening of social protection of women experiencing stillbirth, to provide these women with effective and appropriate care.

Key words: Qualitative study, social, stillbirth, support

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