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Giving HOPE and minimising trauma: An intervention to support women who are separated from their babies at birth due to safeguarding concerns

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

Article numbere2809
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>31/01/2023
<mark>Journal</mark>Child Abuse Review
Issue number1
Number of pages11
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date16/01/23
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Whatever the circumstances, the separation of infants from their mothers at birth is a traumatic experience for all concerned. The paper reports on a study designed to improve practice in this highly sensitive area. An analysis of data collected through semi‐structured interviews with 38 mothers who had experienced removal at birth identified four common themes: isolation and unacknowledged support needs; shame, stigma and the failure of others to acknowledge their maternal identity; acute trauma, immediate downturn and disenfranchised grief following infant removal; and strategies to mitigate their pain and grief. These last themes included the use of artefacts both as transitional objects to help mothers come to terms with the permanent loss of a baby, and as a means of keeping maternal identity alive and connecting with an infant who might eventually return home. In response to these findings, and in collaboration with a group of women with lived experience, HOPE boxes were designed to ameliorate the trauma and psychological burden borne by women in this situation. The contents of the boxes have been chosen to reflect the changing experiences of the women's journeys but also the range of possible potential outcomes. The intervention has considerable potential to minimise the trauma of this painful experience.