Essential Information and Education for Health Care Providers

 

Often with perinatal loss, the majority of the trauma for parents occurs in the hospital. These are the only moments a family has with their baby, and it is the responsibility of health providers to gently guide the family so they can create memories, engage in rituals, create the most healing experience possible in order to lessen regrets in the future and reduce trauma.

In the Hospital

Labor and Delivery

  • Use our At the Hospital page to guide families through this process.
  • This is an experience where parents feel totally out of control, so it is essential to give them choices and control whenever possible
  • Slow things down - there is no rush unless medically necessary.
  • Educate the parents and prepare them for what to expect. You will need to repeat yourself.
  • Always use the term "baby" rather than fetus, and never use "fetal death" or "fetal demise" with the family.
  • If the parents have named their baby, use his/her name.
  • Create a safe space for mom to deliver her baby. Work with her to create a modified birth plan.
  • Take care of the parents, making sure they eat, drink, and sleep. 

Postpartum

  • Use our At the Hospital page to guide families through this process.
  • Treat the deceased baby as you would a live baby. 
  • Reduce future regrets by guiding parents in making memories with their baby.
  • Give the parents as much time as they want with their child. This is the ONLY time they will have.
  • Look into purchasing a CuddleCot™ system for your hospital. Because the warm temperature of the room can contribute to the rapid deterioration of a baby's body, this is a in-room cooling system that dramatically increases the time families can spend with their baby. The CuddleCot™ cools to an ideal temperature for preserving baby without being too cold for the parents. It also prevents the traumatic process of transferring the baby to and from the morgue.

Handing the Baby Over for the Last Time

  • Again, treat the baby as you would a live baby.
  • If possible, give the parents choices on how this process will happen.
    • Never put baby into a box or a bag. 
    • Carry the baby out of the room.
    • Put the baby in a bassinet. 
    • Are the parents able to take the baby to the morgue if they wish?
    • Do the parents want to take the baby home? This is possible in some states.

Mental Health

Compassion Fatigue and Caregiver Burnout

  • You need to practice self-care in order to sustain yourself in your job.
  • Feel your emotions and allow yourself to cry.
  • Outside of work:
    • Meditate
    • Yoga
    • Talk to a colleague or friend
    • Talk to a therapist
    • Journal
    • Exercise
    • Eat nourishing food
    • Take a bath
    • Do whatever relaxes you and/or gives you life

For more in-depth strategies for health professionals, read Our Only Time by Amie Lands.