health professionals infant loss miscariage or stillbirth
bereaved families struggle to hear the news that their baby has sadly passed away.If you are a health professional working with parents whose baby has died as a result of miscarriage, stillbirth or neo-natal loss, you probably feel ill prepared for the event since few training programs offer skills in working with the newly baby bereaved. You may have a range of responses to the death of a baby ranging from a feeling of uncertainty as to what to do, all the way through to total panic. The most important thing for you to remember is that the bereaved parents will never forget what you say to them and how you treat them. I say this not to frighten you or to render you speechless as a result of fear of saying the wrong thing, but to impress upon you how important it is that you inform yourself of their needs. I have worked with bereaved parents who have lived with the death of a beloved baby for 40 years who can still recall, in detail, what each member of the medical team said to them and when. I have also worked with parents who felt held and supported because a health professional simply said "I am so sorry your baby has died" or "There are no words I can say" or simply by seeing the tears in the doctor or midwives eyes or by the gentle touch of a hand. Following is a list of "do's and don'ts" which I hope will assist you in caring for the bereaved parents:
1. Never refer to the baby as the foetus etc. (you would be surprised how often this happens) instead use the baby's name or if the parents have not yet chosen a name, "your baby" "your daughter" "your son"
2. Take the time to tell the parents how sorry you are that their baby died.
3. Remind them, when it feels appropriate, that they are not to blame for their baby's death since all parents blame themselves even when they did everything in their power to protect their baby.
4. Offer contact names and numbers for reputable parent led bereavement groups immediately after the parents are informed of their baby's death.
5. Remember that the parents are in shock and may not respond in what you think is an appropriate manner.
6. You may need to repeat any information you give parents several times as their ability to absorb information is impeded by the shock they are experiencing.
7. Be especially gentle if you have to perform any physical examination. Explain why it is necessary and ask for permission first.
8. Encourage the mother's birth partner/ husband to stay with her unless she expressly requests for that person to leave.
9. Do not ask the mother to "room" with other mothers who have had live babies.
10. Expect tears and do not ask the parents to be quiet or to control their grief.
These simple measures will assist the grieving parents through the overwhelmingly painful first few days.
read this useful information on benefits and rights after a baby miscarriage or stillbirth
Martine Brennan BA, Dip. Couns., Dip. Therapy you can also find courses to help bereaved parents as your local bereavement suite team for more details or look online to.