Losing contact with one’s unborn baby : Mothers’ experiences prior to receiving news that their baby has died in utero

To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the authors.


Abstract Background: If a mother experiences a change in the pattern of movement of her unborn baby, it could be indicative that the baby is unwell or has died in utero. Aim: To study mothers’ experiences during the time prior to receiving news that their unborn baby has died in utero. Method: In-depth interviews were conducted with 26 mothers whose babies died prior to birth, which were then analysed using content analysis. Results: Twenty-two mothers described a premonition that something had happened to their unborn baby, a sense based on a lack of movement from the baby. Six categories were constructed from the analysis of the interviews describing the mother’s insight that the baby’s life was threatened; 1. Not feeling in touch with their baby 2. Worry 3. Feeling something is wrong 4. Not understanding the unbelievable 5. Wanting information 6. Being certain that their baby had died. The overarching theme – “There is something wrong” was formulated. The mothers’ experiences can be illustrated as gradually descending a staircase towards the insight that their baby’s life was threatened. Conclusion: The mothers tried to curb their worry by normalising the baby’s lack of movement. Additionally, reassurance from family and health-care professionals delayed an investigation of the baby’s wellbeing. The mother could not understand the unbelievable; that the baby had died in utero. Implications: Expectant mothers should be cautioned to trust their insights and seek medical advice straightaway if they are concerned over the lack of movement from the unborn baby. Key words: stillborn, premonition, intuition, in utero movement, content analysis

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the authors.

Background: Unexplained late gestation stillbirth is a significant health issue. Antenatal information about foetal movements has been demonstrated to reduce the stillbirth rate in women with decreased foetal movements. Midwives are ideally placed to provide this information to women. Aim: To investigate pregnant women's perceptions of information about foetal movements and preferences for receiving information. Methods: This prospective, descriptive study was conducted in the antenatal clinic of a large metropolitan maternity hospital. Findings: Pregnant women (n=526) at 34 weeks gestation or later were recruited. Only 67% of women reported receiving information about foetal movements. Women reported that midwives (80%), family (57%), friends (48%) and own mother (48%) provided this information. Midwives were the most preferred source of information. Around half (52%) of the women used the internet for information but only 11% nominated the web as their preferred information source. Conclusion: Women prefer to be given as much information about foetal movements as possible. Women favour information from health professionals, mainly from a midwife. Midwives are well-placed to partner with pregnant women and give them unbiased and evidenced based information enabling them to make decisions and choices regarding their health and well-being. While the internet is a prevalent information source, women want to be reassured that it is trustworthy and want direction to reliable pregnancy related websites.
It can be quite natural for pregnant women to believe that a decrease in the frequency of fetal movements at the end of pregnancy is normal if they have been so informed. There is also probably scope for interpretation concerning what is to be regarded as a decrease in the number of movements. Non-evidence-based information that a decrease in fetal movements is normal during the third trimester poses a threat to the unborn baby's life. If the mother does not react to a decrease in frequency and if she waits too long before contacting healthcare professionals, the window of opportunity to save the baby's life may be closed.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any references for this publication.