Peer-Reviewed Journal Details
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Helps, Änne O'Donoghue, Keelin O'Byrne, Laura Greene, Richard Leitao, Sara
Impact of bereavement care and pregnancy loss services on families: Findings and recommendations from Irish inquiry reports
Optional Fields
Pregnancy loss Perinatal death Stillbirth Bereavement care Bereaved families Inquiry reports
Background Pregnancy loss and the death of their baby can be overwhelming for families, especially when the loss is unexpected. The standard of bereavement care families receive around the time of pregnancy or early infant loss can have a significant impact on their psychological recovery. At times external inquiries are carried out to identify issues in the maternity care provided and make recommendations to improve its’ standard. Objective This study aims to describe the impact of bereavement care provided to families around the time of pregnancy and/or early infant loss as stated in ten published inquiry reports related to Irish maternity services. Methods Using thematic analysis, issues with care encountered by bereaved parents as outlined in the reports were identified. These focussed around five main themes (communication, healthcare staff skills, maternity unit environment, post-mortem/coronial process, local incident reviews). Findings Bereavement care, as described by families in the ten reports, was not consistently individualised or respectful, resulting in additional feelings of anger and upset. Problems with clear communication of complex issues, in a manner that is understandable to bereaved families, were identified in several reports. Recommendations from the inquiry reports included that experienced and skilled staff should always be available to provide immediate support to bereaved families as appropriate, and assist families in understanding and processing information around the time of their loss. Conclusions and implications for practice Consistent, individualised bereavement care facilitates a seamless transition for bereaved families from diagnosis through the hospital stay to discharge and follow-up, allowing them to focus on their baby, their bereavement and their family's wellbeing. The process of consent for a perinatal post-mortem and associated concerns have evolved over the timeframe of the ten inquiries. We reflect further on this and the impacts of the other issues highlighted, as well as discussing possible improvements to address them as described in the scientific literature.
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