SUPPORTING FAMILIES THROUGH LOSS
As a medical care provider, we understand how difficult these conversations with patients can be. We are here to support you.
Since Three Little Birds inception, it has been our mission to support the medical community, in addition to the families experiencing loss. It is our understanding there are no truly hands-on, inclusive courses or programs specialized in training medical professionals in appropriate communication, protocols for support or helpful resources for loss families. This is where Three Little Birds can help.
We have created a comprehensive bereavement program appropriate for any medical professional involved with caring for families suffering the loss of a pregnancy or baby. We cover a wide range of topics and leave your facility ensuring that you and your staff will be prepared the next time they encounter a patient suffering a loss. Not only will they be equipped to help them physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well.
These skills are not taught in Nursing or Medical school. They are not meant to teach you how to "fix" a family's pain.
We are bringing the concepts to your staff that are most often overlooked, and that time and time again, families say was missing from their care. It's the difference between giving average patient care and OUTSTANDING care to the patient and their entire family! This is all covered in-depth in just a few short hours. The program ensures attendees will understand the unique grief of pregnancy/baby loss, ethnic, personal and religious diversity, photography/memory making training and communication guidelines to providing compassionate and personalized care.
HOW YOU CAN BE SUPPORTIVE TO YOUR PATIENTS
Be mindful of your words. Under no circumstance should you refer to the baby/pregnancy as: fetal demise, products of conception, "baby parts" or as a miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal loss. Families are losing much-wanted and loved babies. To refer to these babies as such to their families is dehumanizing and has a major negative impact on families and how they understand their losses. To them, this is their baby.
Do not be afraid to say the baby’s name and encourage bonding. The validation given to families by referring to the baby by name supports them by setting the framework for their healing and bonding with baby. Parents can still bond with a baby who has passed away, doing things like a final ultrasound, keeping a journal, talking about their baby. It is also okay to refer to mom, dad, siblings and grandparents by their titles. This further reinforces family bonds.
Avoid excessive questioning. The shock of such awful news is so incredibly overwhelming, families need medical providers who are patient, kind, speak simply and reassuringly about their choices and decisions, as well as answering questions they may have. Families often ask questions multiple times. People experiencing grief and trauma only retain 20% of the information given to them. Please be kind.
Provide adequate literature. Families need someone to walk beside them to understand what resources and support are available to them and how to access them. Be sure to provide printed literature and review it with them so they understand and also feel supported as they leave your facility empty-armed and brokenhearted. Also, resources are constantly being updated or changed so be sure they have up-to-date information.
Focus on the present. When worry consumes us, we tend to get ahead of ourselves. Families have a multitude of decisions to make, however, focusing the family on where they are in the moment, i.e., delivery, bonding, decision making, will help them focus on what they can control in the moment, and what they have time to consider. For example, families do not need to make burial/cremation/autopsy decisions while laboring. Allow them to focus on laboring and welcoming their child first.
Realize no two families are the same. What is important to one family may not be an appropriate consideration for another based on personal, religious and ethnic diversity. Even within the same family, you may have family members who disagree on what they want or how to handle the situation. Provide the family space to understand their needs and encourage them to express them to you so you can support them. Communication and trust are key.
Should you need further guidance on how to support a family, please reach out to us for suggestions and considerations that may be available to them.
In an effort to support families and medical professionals, Three Little Birds has developed these perinatal loss support signs to be hung on hospital doors to alert the staff and anyone else entering the room of what experience is occurring on the other side. More importantly, it provides validation to the family. Signs can be purchased individually or as a trio in our Etsy store.