The grief ritual of extracting and donating human milk after perinatal loss

Title

The grief ritual of extracting and donating human milk after perinatal loss

Creator

Oreg A

Publisher

Social Science & Medicine

Date

2020

Subject

Infant; Female; Humans; Infant Mortality; Pregnancy; Perinatal loss; Mothers; Stillbirth; Ceremonial Behavior; Grief; Ambiguous loss; Continuing bonds; Grief rituals; Meaning-making in loss; Milk donation; Milk Banks; Milk Human

Description

Perinatal loss is a major life crisis involving multiple losses, including the loss of future hopes and dreams, of being pregnant, and of self-esteem, to name a few. In the present study I focus on mothers who experienced perinatal loss and chose to extract and donate their human milk to nonprofit milk banks. Through an analysis of 88 women's personal testimonials, collected between 2017 and 2019, I uncover the ritualistic attributes of the extraction and donation process. The bereaved mothers in this study experienced ambiguous loss, comprising the combination of the physical absence and psychological presence of their baby. The process of extracting and donating their milk constitutes a grief ritual, allowing mothers to maintain and reconstruct the continuing bonds with their babies. The present study extends current understandings of organ donation in times of loss, highlighting the unique nature and consequences of the milk donation process through its conceptualization as a grief ritual.

Rights

Article information provided for research and reference use only. PedPalASCNET does not hold any rights over the resource listed here. All rights are retained by the journal listed under publisher and/or the creator(s).

Citation List Month

April 2021 List

Collection

Citation

Oreg A, “The grief ritual of extracting and donating human milk after perinatal loss,” Pediatric Palliative Care Library, accessed October 23, 2021, https://pedpalascnetlibrary.omeka.net/items/show/17515.

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