Death of One Twin during the Perinatal Period: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis


Death of One Twin during the Perinatal Period: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis


Meaney S; Corcoran P; O'Donoghue K


Journal of Palliative Medicine




congenital abnormality; Bereavement; Bereavement; Female; Humans; Infant; Interviews as Topic; Male; Newborn; Parents; Parents/ psychology; Pregnancy; Qualitative Research; Twins; palliative care; qualitative; Perinatal Death; Qualitative research; female; male; perinatal death; bereavement; Twins; twins


BACKGROUND: Perinatal death is one of the most difficult bereavements due to the shock and profound grief experienced by parents. It has been established that such bereavement has a life-lasting impact. Twin pregnancy is associated with increased perinatal risk, with higher rates of perinatal mortality than in singleton pregnancy. OBJECTIVES: To date, few studies have examined the effect of the loss of one twin diagnosed with a congenital abnormality during pregnancy. This study aims at gaining insight into parents' views to explore the impact of death of one twin in the perinatal period. DESIGN: A qualitative study was undertaken by utilizing interpretative phenomenological analysis. Nine parents who have experienced perinatal loss, all of whom had a prenatal diagnosis of congenital abnormality, participated in in-depth semi-structured interviews. RESULTS: Parents recounted how distressed they were when initially informed that there was a complication. On diagnosis, parents began a complex palliative journey, proceeding in the pregnancy and grieving one baby while trying to ensure the welfare of the co-twin. As parents were encouraged to focus on the "normal" twin, they felt their opportunity to grieve was diminished. It was important that the surviving twin would be identified as a twin and know of their sibling. However, parents conveyed feelings of deep sadness, because this was also a reminder that one twin would always be missing. CONCLUSIONS: Parents were not prepared for the complications they experienced in pregnancy. Clear and appropriate information in relation to perinatal palliative care should be provided to parents in twin pregnancies discordant for fetal abnormality.


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Meaney S; Corcoran P; O'Donoghue K, “Death of One Twin during the Perinatal Period: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis,” Pediatric Palliative Care Library, accessed December 2, 2023,