Caring for Women with Newborn Custodial Losses: A Literature Review

Andrea Robertson RM, MHSc, PhD Candidate and Elizabeth Anne Kinsella PhD, OT Reg. (Ont.)

Custodial loss at birth, for child protection purposes, is an acutely marginalized birth experience. Literature review demonstrates a significant need for further research, especially in regard to maternal perspectives and needs. Although direct maternal voices are overwhelming absent in the current literature, critical findings include that: 1) neglected grief is persistent and detrimental; 2) blame and stigma focused on the individual obscures complex social adversity (often inextricable from trauma), and 3) social and systemic factors disadvantage marginalized women in gendered ways. Canadian midwives are in an important position to explore care possibilities in the context of custodial loss and to engage in research which prioritizes the participation of those directly affected.

newborn apprehension, custodial loss, marginalized mothers, maternal disadvantage, grief, maternity care

This article has been peer reviewed.


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