ORIGINAL PAPER
Changes in the perception of self-image and the sense of purpose and meaning in life, among women who lost their child before birth
 
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Submission date: 2014-07-01
Final revision date: 2014-08-14
Acceptance date: 2014-08-14
Online publication date: 2014-08-06
Publication date: 2014-08-08
 
Health Psychology Report 2014;2(3):162–175
 
KEYWORDS
TOPICS
ABSTRACT
Background
The article is concerned with descriptions of self-image and the sense of purpose in life, among women who have experienced the loss of a child through miscarriage, premature birth or stillbirth. The loss of a child at the prenatal stage is a very difficult experience for the mother. Such women experience a wide range of emotions and often show unpredictable behaviours, both of which can influence their future functioning and mental health.
Participants and procedure
The goal of the current study was to look at the differences between women who had given birth to a healthy child, and those who lost an unborn child. A total of 125 women participated in the study. The Gough and Heilbrun Adjective Check List (ACL) as well as Wong’s Personal Meaning Profile tests were used as research methods.
Results
As expected, significant differences were observed between the two groups in terms of their self-image and perceived sense of purpose and meaning in life. Women who lost an unborn child had a tendency for lower self-esteem, higher perceived guilt and lower needs.
Conclusions
The obtained results suggest the need for observation of mothers who experienced a prenatal child loss. The access to professional help and support from physicians and, more importantly, psychologists and therapists has an influence on their self-image, and the sense of purpose in both the present and the future. Adequate professional assistance has an influence on their family relations and their ability to plan another pregnancy (further attempts at conception), without a perception of guilt associated with the loss of the previous child.
 
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