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Table 2 Superordinate and Subordinate themes

From: Mothers’ experience of their contact with their stillborn infant: An interpretative phenomenological analysis

1. Characteristics of Contact 1.1 Having Time
I guess having some time and then seeing her was quite good. You feel like you’re, you’re coming to a bit more. I think if we’d have seen her too soon after I wouldn’t have been really quite with it enough (Sophie)
1.2 Shared experience
They dressed him. (Partners) parents came over to be with us. When (partner) and I were together we really dwelled. When other people were there we chatted about other stuff. My mum and dad were in the delivery suite waiting. (Partners) mum wanted to see him, dad wasn’t sure. We didn’t want to put pressure on them, they had to do it for themselves, then it was all of us together. It was nice that all of them came and they shared that with us. It’s a shared experience (Emma)
2. Physicality 2.1 Fear of a dead body
It was preparing for what was he going to look like, were we going to feel a bond with him, or were we going to feel disgust, we were worried and concerned about that (Emma)
2.2 Relief at well-formed body
It was good to see that you know he was really well formed (Charlotte)
2.3 Identifying family traits
Holding her, seeing what she looked like, knowing whether she looked like me or like (partner). This might sound strange but I wondered if she’d have a crossover toe like me but she didn’t. Her hair was like her dad’s, dark and curly. You pin all your hopes on what they’ll be like and I feel robbed of it. If I hadn’t seen her it’d be 10 times worse as I’d never have known her. I can be at peace knowing that I’d held her. I needed that (Hannah)
2.4 Damage
'Cause at one stage they kept her in a cool room, they didn’t call it that but it obviously was, so when we had her with us and she was obviously warming up a little bit, some blood was coming out of her nose, it was like she was alive in a way, you know, and every time I moved she moved and it was like she could still be there, but she obviously wasn’t (Olivia)
3. Emotional Experience 3.1 Positive experience/process
And when I was young I'd always had, I was always very scared of death, I remember being somewhere and sitting on my mum’s lap and crying and crying because I didn’t want them to die and sort of a real morbid. I was so scared of death really. I just think all of that was put to rest when I had (daughter), thinking it’s not so scary really is it, just one of those things that happens, a dead body is a dead body and there is nothing to be worried about so in that way it was quite a good thing that allayed a lot of fears for me about death (Olivia)
3.2 Maternal Pride
I did, I did (feel like a proud mum)…it was a positive experience yeah, obviously I was sad, you know, you know, but the main thing I felt when I held him was, was being proud that he was that little person and that he was mine (Lucy)
3.3 Grief
It’s sad. It just feels as if there is nothing you can do (Lucy)
4. Surreal Experience 4.1 Disbelief
Because all the time when we were at the hospital I didn’t react emotionally so I think when they told me, when they actually confirmed that he had died, one of my first questions was “when can I try for a baby again?” why, I don’t know why, but it didn’t register I don’t think, what had happened, and for me, all I was thinking about was actually giving birth to my baby so I, obviously I was very upset but I didn’t really think about, I don’t think I really put it into context what had happened (Lucy)
4.2 Dissociation
My experience of it? It just seems blurred like it was a dream (Victoria)
5. Finality 5.1 Saying goodbye and Feeling sorry
It was just being able to say goodbye to her properly, getting memories and things to remember her by, and just having cuddles and things. It was a special time (Katherine)
5.2 Realising/accepting death
Helps you to cope with what happened (Rebecca)
6. Decision 6.1 Satisfied with decision
I think I would have felt worse now if I hadn’t, you can’t take that back, you can’t go backwards and change it, so I definitely think it was the right thing to do and I guess I’m quite grateful for, I mean it wasn’t, it wasn’t pushed, but it was recommended (Sophie)
6.2 Regrets about decision
I wish I had seen him more (Kate)