Trying to conceive: An interpretive phenomenological analysis of couples’ experiences of pregnancy after stillbirth

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Murphy, Margaret M.
Savage, Eileen
O'Donoghue, Keelin
O'Leary, Joann
Leahy-Warren, Patricia
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Objective: Stillbirth affects 1:200 pregnancies in high income countries. Most women are pregnant again within 12 months. Little is known about how couples negotiate a subsequent pregnancy. This paper presents findings from a study exploring the experiences of couples’ in pregnancy after stillbirth. Methods: Qualitative, interpretive phenomenological analysis was used to conduct in-depth interviews with eight heterosexual couples in the immediate pregnancy after stillbirth. Couples were interviewed together to explore their dyadic, lived experiences of stillbirth and the pregnancy that follows. Results: Hoping for a born alive baby was one superordinate theme and Trying to conceive one of its subordinate themes, is presented here. Couples jointly negotiated their decision to get pregnant again, varying upon their individual circumstances, including their experiences of stillbirth. Gender differences were apparent in a couple’s agreement to pursue a pregnancy after stillbirth and may be explained by the desire of men to fully parent the baby who died before reaching a decision about a subsequent pregnancy. Sexual intercourse often became less about emotional connection and more about a means to achieve a pregnancy. Conclusion: Couples spoke of the need for each partner to be in agreement with the decision for a pregnancy. The experiences of trying to conceive after stillbirth impacted the couple relationships. Couples who were able to discuss their feelings with one another appeared more cohesive than those who experienced communication challenges in the aftermath of loss. New insights into men’s thinking about the decision to get pregnant after stillbirth were revealed.
Couples , Decision-making , Pregnancy , Stillbirth , Interpretive phenomenological analysis
Murphy, M. M., Savage, E., O'Donoghue, K., O'Leary, J. and Leahy-Warren, P. (2020) 'Trying to conceive: An interpretive phenomenological analysis of couples’ experiences of pregnancy after stillbirth', Women and Birth, doi: 10.1016/j.wombi.2020.10.016