Grief, Nursing process, Stillbirth



  1. Nurse-Clarke, Natasha PhD, RN, CNS
  2. DiCicco-Bloom, Barbara PhD, RN
  3. Limbo, Rana PhD, RN, CPLC, FAAN


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine the extent to which labor and delivery nurses used the tenets of Swanson's middle-range theory to care for women whose babies were stillborn.


Study Design and Methods: A secondary analysis of qualitative in-depth interview data from 20 labor and delivery nurses obtained during a recent grounded theory study was conducted using the directed content analysis method. The five caring processes as described in Swanson's theory were used as a priori codes to conduct the analysis.


Results: Nursing care of a woman experiencing a stillbirth included finding a way to connect with her and to understand what she was experiencing (knowing), spending extra time with her (being with), protecting her and preserving her dignity (doing for), providing information and explanations in a clear and methodical manner (enabling), and ensuring that she did not blame herself to facilitate the grieving/healing process (maintaining belief).


Clinical Implications: The caring processes outlined in Swanson's theory of caring provide a valuable guide that can be used when caring for women experiencing stillbirth.