The loss of possibility: scientisation of death and the special case of early miscarriage.
ABSTRACT This paper explores the special nature of bereavement in the case of first trimester miscarriage. It is theoretically informed by the sociological literature concerning death and bereavement and is empirically grounded in interviews with 79 women. We argue that the 'scientisation of death' in modern societies contributes to the uncertainty and isolation which distinguish early miscarriage as a unique form of loss. In the absence of clear cultural scripts to draw upon, many women interviewed gave meaning to their loss as 'what might have been' or what we call 'the loss of possibility'. Some women juxtaposed the failure of their pregnancy with that of modern medicine either to prevent the loss or provide a credible explanation for their miscarriage. Little research has been conducted in this area, since the pioneering work of Lovell (1983) and Cecil (1984). Our research draws on one of the largest and most systematic bodies of data ever collected on early miscarriage, and provides continued evidence of the traumas of miscarriage. The strategies employed by women to make sense of, and come to terms with, their experience of miscarriage are explored, employing a typology of pre-modern, modern and postmodern responses.
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ABSTRACT: This paper examines some of the attitudes and procedures which de-construct the identities of a mother and baby when loss occurs through late miscarriage, stillbirth and perinatal loss. Various factors which play a part in a woman's acceptance of her loss are explored, such as contact with the dead baby, formal and 'informal' ritual and early hospital discharge. Ways in which hospitals deal with and define these losses are looked at. It is suggested that all-too-often there seems to be no physical or psychological space for a maternity case without a baby. Is she a mother or is she a patient? The findings suggest that both roles may be lost simultaneously. The dead baby is usually whisked away and the bereaved woman sent back to the community with what feels like indecent haste. Birth and death seem to cancel out. Definitional ambiguities and anomalies about the status of the baby are examined and common sense views about 'hierarchies of sadness' are discussed. This study challenges existing assumptions about the way in which some babies are seen by the professionals as 'lesser' losses, and looks at the implications of these perceptions. The findings are based upon interviews with health professionals in four London hospitals; and a series of in-depth interviews with bereaved parents.Social Science [?] Medicine 02/1983; 17(11):755-61. · 2.73 Impact Factor
- Journal of Material Culture - J MAT CULT. 01/2000; 5(3):321-345.
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ABSTRACT: To obtain the views of women on the impact of operative delivery in the second stage of labour. Qualitative interview study. Two urban teaching hospitals in the United Kingdom. Purposive sample of 27 women who had undergone operative delivery in the second stage of labour between January 2000 and January 2002. KEY THEMES: Preparation for birth, understandings of the indications for operative delivery, and explanation or debriefing after birth. The women felt unprepared for operative delivery and thought that their birth plan or antenatal classes had not catered adequately for this event. They emphasised the importance of maintaining an open mind about the management of labour. They had difficulty understanding the need for operative delivery despite a review by medical and midwifery staff before discharge. Operative delivery had a noticeable impact on women's views about future pregnancy and delivery. Women consider postnatal debriefing and medical review important deficiencies in current care. Those who experienced operative delivery in the second stage of labour would welcome the opportunity to have a later review of their intrapartum care, physical recovery, and management of future pregnancies.BMJ (Clinical research ed.). 12/2003; 327(7424):1132.