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Recovering from stillbirth: the effects of making and sharing memories on maternal mental health

Crawley, R., Lomax, S. & Ayers, S. (2013). Recovering from stillbirth: the effects of making and sharing memories on maternal mental health. Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology, 31(2), pp. 195-207. doi: 10.1080/02646838.2013.795216


Objective: This study examined whether the experience of creating and sharing memories of their babies is associated with mothers’ mental health after stillbirth, taking account of factors previously shown to be important. Background: Mothers of stillborn babies are usually offered the opportunity to spend time with and create memories of their babies. However, evidence on whether this leads to better mental health outcomes is equivocal. One possible explanation is that the impact of making memories is mediated by the extent to which women subsequently share these memories. Methods: Cross-sectional questionnaire study. Mothers (N = 162) of stillborn babies completed online questionnaires of how memories were made and shared, satisfaction with memory-making and sharing, professional and social support, and symptoms of depression, anxiety and PTSD. Results: The majority of mothers made and shared memories. The number of different memory-making activities was not associated with mental health outcomes. However, the degree to which mothers shared their memories was associated with fewer PTSD symptoms. Regression analyses showed that good mental health was most strongly associated with time since stillbirth, perceived professional support, sharing of memories and less wish to talk more about the baby. Conclusion: This study confirms research showing that time since stillbirth and perceived professional support is associated with better mental health following stillbirth and for the first time shows the importance of opportunities to share memories of the baby. Variation in sharing opportunities may contribute to inconsistencies in the association between making memories and mental health following stillbirth.

Publication Type: Article
Publisher Keywords: Social Sciences, Psychology, Multidisciplinary, Psychology, stillbirth, stillborn, maternal health, mental health, making memories, sharing memories, POSTTRAUMATIC-STRESS-DISORDER, NEONATAL DEATH, PERINATAL DEATH, PREGNANCY LOSS, SILENCE, BEREAVEMENT, DEPRESSION, MOTHERS, ANXIETY, GRIEF
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RG Gynecology and obstetrics
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Nursing
SWORD Depositor:
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