Experiences of Nurses Who Care for Women After Fetal Loss

Marianne H. Hutti, Barbara Polivka, Susan White, Janice Hill, Paul Clark, Cathy Cooke, Savannah Clemens, Hayley Abell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Objective: To examine the experiences of, meaning for, and personal consequences for obstetric, emergency, and surgical nurses caring for women after fetal death and to determine how these nurses use Swanson's caring processes in providing such care. Design: Four focus groups. Setting: Two hospitals within the same health care system. Participants: Registered nurses (N = 24) working in the obstetric, surgery, or emergency departments. Methods: Swanson's Theory of Caring guided focus group questions that were audiotaped and transcribed verbatim. Data were analyzed using a continuously emergent process of data collection, data reduction, data display, and interpretation. Results: All participants demonstrated all of Swanson's caring processes but used them preferentially according to situational exigencies and level of rapport with each woman. Nurses had positive and negative feelings associated with caring for women after fetal loss. Conclusions: Obstetric nurses provided relatively equal focus on all processes in the Theory of Caring except Maintaining Belief. Surgical and emergency department nurses focused primarily on the caring processes of Knowing and Doing For. The negative feelings reported by nurses mirror some emotions commonly associated with compassion fatigue. More research is needed to determine whether nurses caring for mothers experiencing fetal loss are at risk for compassion fatigue. Research is also needed to identify strategies and interventions to help nurses so they may continue to give the best care possible to these very vulnerable families without detriment to themselves.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-27
Number of pages11
JournalJOGNN - Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 AWHONN, the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses


  • caring
  • fetal loss
  • nurses

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics
  • Critical Care
  • Maternity and Midwifery


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