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Sexuality and affectivity after a grieving process for an antenatal death: a qualitative study of fathers' experiences

  • Marcos Camacho-Ávila1
  • Encarnación Hernández-Sánchez2
  • Alba Fernández-Férez3
  • Isabel María Fernández-Medina4,*,
  • Cayetano Fernández-Sola4,5
  • María Belén Conesa-Ferrer6
  • María Isabel Ventura-Miranda7

1Delivery Room Service, Santa Lucia University Hospital, 30202 Cartagena, Spain

2Delivery Room Service, Torrevieja University Hospital, 03186 Torrevieja, Spain

3Health District of Almería, 04009 Almería, Spain

4Department of Nursing Science, Physiotherapy and Medicine, University of Almería, 04120 Almería, Spain

5Faculty of Health Sciences, Universidad Autónoma de Chile, 7500000 Santiago, Chile

6Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Murcia, 30100 Murcia, Spain

7Department of Nursing Science, Physiotherapy and Medicine, University of Almería, 04120 Almería, Spain

DOI: 10.22514/jomh.2023.010 Vol.19,Issue 2,February 2023 pp.36-44

Submitted: 29 September 2022 Accepted: 08 December 2022

Published: 28 February 2023

*Corresponding Author(s): Isabel María Fernández-Medina E-mail: isabel_medina@ual.es

Abstract

The loss of an infant at the prenatal stage is one of the most traumatic events parents can experience. Prenatal losses have several negative implications for parents’ physical, psychological, and social well-being, including intimacy and sexuality. Fathers who suffer from this experience have to cope not only with their grief, but also with the physical and emotional suffering of their partners. The social context gives the father a masculine role of strength, insensitivity, and protection of the mother, with the result that his pain and grief become invisible. The objective of this study is to understand fathers’ experience of affective-sexual relationships after a grieving process for an antenatal death; A qualitative study based on interviews with 11 fathers in Spain who have experienced an antenatal death was conducted. Data were analyzed with the help of ATLAS.ti software to discover emerging themes. 6 sub-themes were developed from the analysis, grouped into two main themes: the invisibility of grieving fathers and the relationships between the grieving parents are influenced by the death of their infants. The sexuality of fathers who suffer an antenatal death is altered. Gender stereotypes and the lack of social and professional awareness make their grief invisible. Fathers need to express their emotions to cope with their own grief and break the stereotypical gendered bereavement. In most cases, the couple’s relationship is altered, from a close union to a more distant relationship, in addition to a decrease in sexual desire and arousal. However, other fathers experienced greater closeness and intimacy in the couple. A communication based on sincerity, exposing their own grief, feelings, emotions and needs could help the couple’s relationship.


Keywords

Fathers; Gender; Grief; Perinatal grief; Masculinity; Sexuality; Fetal death


Cite and Share

Marcos Camacho-Ávila,Encarnación Hernández-Sánchez,Alba Fernández-Férez,Isabel María Fernández-Medina,Cayetano Fernández-Sola,María Belén Conesa-Ferrer,María Isabel Ventura-Miranda. Sexuality and affectivity after a grieving process for an antenatal death: a qualitative study of fathers' experiences. Journal of Men's Health. 2023. 19(2);36-44.

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