Culpability, blame, and stigma after pregnancy loss in Qatar

Nadia Omar, Stella Major, Mona Mohsen, Halima Al Tamimi, Faten El Taher, Susie Kilshaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


BACKGROUND: Following a miscarriage many women report feeling guilty and culpable for what has happened particularly when aspects of societal blame and stigma are involved. This research investigated the impact of cultural context on the experience of miscarriage. In particular, it focused on how elements of stigma and blame are linked to notions of miscarriage etiology and risk among Qatari women. METHODS: The research used an ethnographic approach. The data was collected over 18 months of fieldwork in Qatar, using semi-structured face to face interviews, and participant observation. A purposive sample of 40 women (primary participants) who had recently miscarried, participated in the study. Potential subjects were initially identified in the Women's Hospital and were consented, and then interviewed in Arabic either in the hospital or at their preferred location. The interviews were audio recorded, transcribed and translated into English. Additional key interviews were performed with 20 secondary participants related to the miscarriage cohort including family members and husbands. Inductive thematic analysis of content was performed manually to extract themes. RESULTS: Two main themes emerged from the material looking specifically at miscarriage aftermaths: rhetorics of blame, self-blame and feelings of guilt; and miscarriage attitudes. Overall society is sympathetic and miscarriage is seen as normal and not particularly worrying, but understood to be upsetting to women. However, findings suggest there is some ambivalence around blame, culpability and stigma applied to miscarriage; some participants perceived miscarriage as a relatively normal and common event, whereas, others felt that miscarriage is resounding stigma and shame. CONCLUSION: Miscarriage aftermaths are embedded in social, cultural and religious frameworks in relation to notions of risk and causation. Attention should be paid to ensure women and those around them are given appropriate and robust information about miscarriage causation to deflect discourses of blame that may be employed and reduce harm to women who suffer miscarriage.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
JournalBMC pregnancy and childbirth
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jun 2019



  • Blame
  • Culpability
  • Guilt
  • Miscarriage
  • Pregnancy loss
  • Qatar
  • Stigma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology

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