Despite stillbirth being identified as one of the most traumatic events a woman can experience, there is a lack of evidence on which to inform best practice in hospital and follow‐up care.
The aim of this study was to identify which strategies are most valued by parents regarding care following stillbirth in order to improve the support and management of grieving families.
Mixed methods questionnaires were sent to bereaved participants of the Sydney Stillbirth Study. Questionnaires included a combination of fixed and open‐ended responses regarding two critical areas: the participant’s hospital stay and their follow‐up care. We analysed the qualitative data using thematic analysis.
Of the 103 women who experienced a stillbirth, 36 responded to the questionnaire. Responders were more likely to have private obstetric care (odds ratio (OR) 4.7, 95% CI 1.7–12.7) and be tertiary educated (OR 6.2, 95% CI 2.3–16.8). Three key themes relating to hospital management of stillbirth were identified: the emotional response to grief, the educational importance of being guided through the grief process, and the environmental aspects of adequate time and appropriate physical space. Families preferred not to be seen in an antenatal setting for follow‐up.
Simple key components of care including a sensitive and respectful approach, offering guidance as to creating memories, and arranging follow‐up care in a quiet and private environment are valued by families experiencing a stillbirth. Incorporating these into practice is achievable and could benefit both families and caregivers.