Spirituality when a newborn is unwell

Sílvia Caldeira*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Parents usually place high expectations on their pregnancy journey and having a successful birth. From the beginning of the desire to be parents, the idea of a ʼnormal’ and ‘healthy’ pregnancy starts arising in the thoughts, in the heart and in the soul of the parents. Sometimes this is not possible and the pregnancy comes to an end with an early delivery and the birth of an unwell baby who is different from the expected baby and is living with different conditions. In these situations parents may start a grieving journey involving deep and intimate feelings, based on denial or anger. Healthcare professionals are in a privileged position of proximity alongside parents coping with these circumstances and can help guarantee both human support and to promote resilience. In these suffering moments parents often turn to their belief systems seeking strength, conversely some religious (or otherwise) believers start questioning their faith. A child is often a significant part of the couple’s meaning and also part of the individual meaning in life. The whole process of having an unwell child can be a time of suffering and be lived as a profound spiritual experience which is frequently transformative in many aspects.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSpirituality and childbirth
Subtitle of host publicationmeaning and care at the start of life
EditorsSusan Crowther, Jenny Hall
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781315389639
ISBN (Print)9781138229402
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017


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