Exploring Bereaved Fathers’ Experiences of Pregnancy Loss: A Phenomenological Study
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The purpose of this study was to explore and gain understanding into bereaved fathers’ experiences of pregnancy loss. A qualitative study using phenomenological methodology based on grounded theory was employed for this study. A sample of four male participants who each experienced at least one pregnancy loss were selected for a single in-depth interview. The goal of grounded theory research is to identify an explanatory core category that becomes substantive theory and from this study’s theoretical coding, one core theme emerged from the data: Men who experienced a pregnancy loss responded to their female partner’s needs. This substantive theory was named “responding.” Other core categories resulting from the data included “expecting the pregnancy,” “losing the pregnancy,” “emotions,” “managing,” “following the partner’s lead,” and “medical follow-up.” In addition to providing a further understanding of paternal pregnancy loss experiences, this study also highlighted considerations for professionals when supporting men, including adopting inclusive language about the pregnancy and loss, broadening understanding of pregnancy loss complications and increasing knowledge on supports and resources that would be available to bereaved fathers and their families. While this study’s findings contribute to a growing body of research on the topic of paternal experiences of pregnancy loss, further research would be useful to examine and understand how men respond to pregnancy loss when they receive appropriate support and resources from health care professionals, families and friends during this critical time.