Let's talk about preparing for the birth
because this is a very important time in the process when the baby's actually delivered.
Understand that there are cultural and religious practices
that surround what happens during death for many families, and we want to honor that.
So taking some time to explore that with the birthing person and the partner
and maybe their extended family, so that we know who should be present.
Maybe the baby's named after birth, maybe they're not.
Maybe the baby's washed. Maybe there's certain clothing that every baby in the family has worn.
Whatever that is, if we can honor that, we definitely want to make an effort to do so.
Then there comes the issue of seeing the baby,
and what we know is that parents who have seen
and held their babies within the first 30 minutes of birth,
they described this as one of the most powerful and valuable experiences that they've had.
And as you can imagine, preparing the parents
for what they're going to see is going to be really important,
and they may have in their minds,
especially if the baby's died or maybe there's been genetic abnormalities
that have been anticipated, they don't know what they're going to see.
So as much as possible, we need to sit down and really be honest with the parents
about what the baby's going to look like, what the baby's going to feel like,
even what the baby might smell like depending on how long it's been since the baby passed away.
We want to make sure that the baby's warm.
So we may need to place the baby under the warmer, so that they're not holding a cold baby.
These are seemingly small things but they make a really big difference and an impact on the family.
When we think about things that we say that might support the family,
I want to give you some very specific examples because, sometimes, we're at a loss for words.
We could say something like, "I'm so sorry this happened to you."
Or, "What is it that you need right now? I'm here and I want to listen.
What can I do for you? Would you like me to step out of the room,
so you could have time together just as a family?" Saying, "Your baby is beautiful."
Every parent wants to hear that.
And then letting the family know that it is okay to take as much time as they need.
And so we can warm the baby up again if we need to do that.
We don't need to say that, but we can definitely do that.
So we talked about the impact of loss on the family.
Let's talk about the impact of loss on the nurse.
So imagine being exposed to fetal death or complications that result in a loss.
That can actually cause overtime stress for the nurse.
It can impact their ability cope even with the good things that happen on the unit.
We need to think about how we can offer some emotional protection
for our staff that are around perinatal loss.
And we need to know that we should be empowered to support them.
So sometimes that self-care is one of the most important things
we can do to be there to support our families.