Stillbirth and stigma: the spoiling and repair of multiple social identities

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Brierley-Jones, L. ; Crawley, R. ; Lomax, S. ; Ayers, S. (2014)
  • Publisher: Baywood Publishing Company
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.2190/OM.70.2.a
  • Subject: sub_healthsciences | RG | RJ

This study investigated mothers' experiences surrounding stillbirth in the United Kingdom, their memory making and sharing opportunities, and the effect these opportunities had on them. Qualitative data were generated from free text responses to open-ended questions. Thematic content analysis revealed that "stigma" was experienced by most women and Goffman's (1963) work on stigma was subsequently used as an analytical framework. Results suggest that stillbirth can spoil the identities of "patient," "mother," and "full citizen." Stigma was reported as arising from interactions with professionals, family, friends, work colleagues, and even casual acquaintances. Stillbirth produces common learning experiences often requiring "identity work" (Murphy, 2012). Memory making and sharing may be important in this work and further research is needed. Stigma can reduce the memory sharing opportunities for women after stillbirth and this may explain some of the differential mental health effects of memory making after stillbirth that is documented in the literature.
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