Support for perinatal providers...
First, on behalf of our organization, our loss families and community partners, we want to offer a heartfelt thank you to the perinatal providers (physicians, midwives, social workers, sonographers, lactation consultants, mental health professionals, etc) that walk the journey of loss. Thank you...
For being willing to listen and learn from the families you care for
For advocating for families in their most vulnerable moments
For being sensitive to families’ vulnerable emotional states
For showering families with compassion and kindness
For being aware that due to various complications, families are at risk of having post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
For remembering that families may be struggling with feelings of guilt for having failed at pregnancy
For honoring, respecting and validating their child’s life and passing you wherever you go.
How we bridge the gap for providers and families
Since our founding, we have been so fortunate to connect with many providers supporting families at the time of loss or shortly thereafter. What we have found in forging these relationships is that while providers want to support families in doing what is "right" for them, the feel helpless and intimidated in supporting them due to the lack of education and support from employers to maintain best practices and emerging trends in supporting bereavement. We knew our mission needed to include providers as well as loss families. Therefore, our Bedside Bereavement Program expanded through the efforts of our volunteer certified bereavement doulas with the debut of our Perinatal Bereavement Training Program. This allows our doulas, many of whom are loss parents themselves, to go bedside and bridge the gap to support both family and provider through education, empathy and empowerment. To date, we have trained more than 25 professionals and volunteer advocates.
With Three Little Birds to support healthcare systems bedside, we can ensure our training is consistent among staff, volunteers can be dispatched to facilitate or assist providers with memory making, bonding and photography. Unfortunately, there are times we do not have a volunteer available. In these instances, we can retouch photos taken by the staff or families. In either instance, Three Little Birds provides a trusted volunteer who wants to provide them with the best possible experience on the worst day of their lives and be a familiar face when they return to our nest for peer-led support postpartum.
In 2024, we are relaunching our training program to be 100% virtual and updated with new resources. This program includes stories, tips and tricks collected from the doulas who have supported more than 400 families bedside or postpartum. Our training program focuses on empowering advocates in holding space, utilizing effective communication to encourage families as they walk through the fog of grief, as well as cultural competency, self-care and setting boundaries.
Self care for providers
We have seen many qualified providers become pigeonholed into being the "only" person who can support perinatal loss families and ultimately, burning out or changing careers. Statistically, 25% of the hospital's gestating population will have a negative birth outcome. When that professional is unavailable due to schedule, planned time off or other personal commitments, that generally results perinatal loss families receiving inconsistent care. All families deserve to have an educated, knowledgeable, empathetic care provider to discuss what options are available or considerable for them that meets their cultural, religious and personal diversity. In our experience, we have seen an increase in consistency through our training program not just in patient satisfaction in the support provided, but the lifting of burden and burnout on individual staff. Our trained professionals have stated they are empowered to support families after becoming certified through Three Little Birds, and the overall process is less taxing on them and their colleagues.
Burnout, especially in perinatal bereavement, is prevalent even for the most experienced providers. It is hard to have to hold space for a family walking the fog of grief, along with other stressful aspects of our personal and professional lives. That is why our training program also focuses on self-care practices that can help alleviate additional stress. This includes finding physical, emotional and spiritual outlets to manage stress, tips for long-term burnout maintenance and how working with Three Little Birds or an advocacy group like ours near you can add value to patient and employee experiences.
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Recommended reading for providers
Companioning at a Time of Perinatal Loss: A Guide for Nurses, Physicians, Social Workers and Chaplains in the Hospital Setting by Jane Huetes, RN and Marcia Meyer Jenkins
Living Life in Balance by Abdullah Bulad
Healing your Grieving Heart After Stillbirth by Alan Wolfert, Ph.D