Supporting families after stillbirth – international evidence review

stillbirth grief

A second review of research on supporting families after still birth has been published just a month later than the last review on stillbirth that we reported.

Though some of the 52 articles reviewed consider stillbirth to be something that only affects mothers, others highlight the family aspects of the experience.

2.7 million babies are stillborn every year.

Themes relating to families and fathers are:

Fathers felt their fatherhood went unrecognized or invalidated.

Mothers and fathers often experience lack of understanding or support from family and friends.

Fathers recommended that the staff should not forget the fathers, even though, for obvious reasons all the attention is focused on the child in the search for signs of life.

The father has a special need for information and participation before, during and after delivery of a stillborn child.

Fathers often kept their emotions under control for fear of upsetting the mother, but mothers wanted fathers to express their emotions.

Fathers looked on themselves as a buffer between the world outside and their partner, and tried to spare her by taking care of practical matters themselves.

Fathers were unsure of how to support the mother.

Fathers found that it was usually more difficult for men to talk about grief and feelings that it was for women.


Ellis A, Chebsey C, Storey C, Bradley S, Jackson S, Flenady V, Heazell A, Siassoakos D (2016), Systematic review to understand and improve care after stillbirth: a review of parents’ and healthcare professionals’ experiences, BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 16

Photo: martin. Creative Commons.