Fathers' experiences of perinatal loss

Burgess, Amy and Murray, Craig (2022) Fathers' experiences of perinatal loss. PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

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This thesis is split into three sections comprising a systematic review and thematic synthesis of literature, an empirical study, and a critical appraisal of the thesis overall. The systematic review involved a thematic synthesis of 20 studies investigating experiences of perinatal loss, with the research question focusing the analysis on fathers’ experiences of support following miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant death. The review yielded three themes of this experience: (1) Gendered expectations and experiences of loss, (2) ‘if I talk about it, it upsets her even more’: conflict between supporting and needing support, and (3) Male experiences of support and service provision. The findings from the review are presented as a conceptualisation of the experience, highlighting the cyclical nature of barriers to support for fathers. The empirical study aimed to investigate fathers’ relational experiences of stillbirth through a lens of continuing bonds and the use of objects. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis was conducted on data from semi-structured interviews with 6 fathers who had experienced stillbirth from 20 weeks of gestation onwards. Analysis revealed five themes: (1) ‘his baby didn’t die the mum’s baby died’: loss and continued bonds in a mother-mediated dynamic, (2) ‘its connected to your baby but it’s not connected to you and your baby together’: objects as manifestations of relational and meaningful memories, (3) ‘their death does not erase their existence’: exerting existence and continued connection to others, (4) ‘to replace the fact that she isn’t physically here’: a continued bond through physical presence, (5) ‘over time the relationship shifts too’: evolving expressions of love and fatherhood. The findings of both papers along with their strengths, limitations and pertinent clinical implications are presented in the critical appraisal along with the authors reflections on the completion of this thesis.

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Thesis (PhD)
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14 Sep 2022 11:10
Last Modified:
16 Jul 2024 06:00