Care Experiences of Women Who Used Opioids and Experienced Fetal or Infant Loss

Lisa F. Scott, Carol Shieh, Rachel A. Umoren, Teri Conard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations


Objective To explore care experiences of women who used prescription or illicit opioids and experienced fetal or infant loss. Design A qualitative, descriptive design with secondary data analysis. Setting The Fetal and Infant Mortality Review program in an urban Midwestern county in the United States. Participants Eleven women with histories of prescription or illicit opioid use who experienced fetal or infant loss participated in the semistructured telephone or in-person interview portion of the mortality case review. Methods We used thematic analysis to analyze interview data. Results Five themes were identified related to the care experiences of participants throughout pregnancy and fetal/infant loss: Frustration and anger related to not being heard, feeling minimalized; Being overwhelmed with attempts to process and understand medical complications and outcomes; Profound sense of grief and coping with loss; Need to understand why and make difficult decisions; and Placing blame and guilt over death. Conclusion Our findings suggest that women who use opioids and experience fetal or infant loss have complex care, educational, and emotional needs. In the development of interventions for these women, it is important to address their unique and complex circumstances.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)846-856
Number of pages11
JournalJOGNN - Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2017


  • infant loss
  • maternal narcotic use
  • maternal opioid use
  • perinatal bereavement
  • prenatal care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics
  • Critical Care
  • Maternity and Midwifery

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