Psychiatric aspects of perinatal loss

by Dr William Badenhorst


Last updated: October 2019


I have lost two or three infants, not without regret, but with no great sorrow’ (Montaigne, 1685).


Four centuries on, Montaigne’s comment seems shocking. So what has changed?


Perinatal loss – a common event in Montaigne’s age – has become much rarer in wealthy societies due to the general improvements in health, the introduction of antibiotics in the 20th century and the tendency towards the medical management of childbirth. As a result in wealthier societies today, the loss of a baby around the time of childbirth is an unexpected tragedy.


This module aims to summarise the relevant literature on grief, loss and mourning in general and as applied to the experience of perinatal loss. We consider the immediate and long-term effects of such losses on parents and siblings, the rationale for current medical management (as well as a critique of current practices) and the potential role for a psychiatrist in helping bereaved parents and the teams providing their care.


Start the module



If you like this module, you may also be interested in:


Bereavement by Dr Colin Parkes


Psychiatric aspects of end-of-life care by Dr Christian Hosker and Dr Wendy Neil


Quickbite: Psychopharmacology in end-of-life care by Dr Christian Hosker and Dr Wendy Neil


Quickbite: Psychotropic medication in breastfeeding by Dr Charles Musters and Dr Anthony Soares


BJPsych Advances: related articles for CPD Online



Related Advances articles


Download take-home notes to print and annotateDownload take-home notes to print and annotate


© 2021 Royal College of Psychiatrists