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Three Little Birds launches perinatal bereavement training program at Jefferson Health NJ!

Pictured: Back/left to right - Three Little Birds Co-Founder, Kristen Samuelson, Ellen Appleton, Certified Nurse Midwife, Women's Health NP, Vicki Asturrizaga, MSN, CNM, Jefferson NJ OB/GYN & Midwifery Care, Carol Folcher, RN, BSN, Clinical Coordinator, Maternal Fetal Medicine, Jefferson Health, Washington Township and Desiree Miller, Three Little Birds Co-Founder. Front - Meredith Annon-Stein, MSN, CNM, Lead Advanced Practice Provider, Jefferson NJ OB/GYN & Midwifery Care, Megan Dominik, RN, Jefferson Health, Washington Township, and Krystal Volpe, RN, Jefferson Health, Washington Township.

Three Little Birds Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support is proud to announce the official launch of our Perinatal Bereavement Training Program at Jefferson Health NJ! We are so grateful for Jefferson Health's continued support of our mission and in supporting their staff that support the one in four families walking the journey of pregnancy and infant loss in South Jersey.

Jefferson Health sponsored our 2021 Wave of Light ceremony where we presented them with two gifts: two Cuddle Cots and access to our bereavement training program. Over the past five weeks this spring, workshop trainees utilized our self-paced weekly virtual training model which included a wealth of research, medical journals/abstracts and topical videos to begin discussing the multi-faceted grief associated with perinatal loss. This includes a basic overview of local and national statistics, patient perspectives, the sacred bonds between parent and child, how to effectively communicate and advocate for families, resources and opportunities families may be interested in addition to a series dedicated to diversity in loss and how families' cultural, ethnic, religious, spiritual and socioeconomic status can influence their decisions on how they want to parent their children in these situations.

Our Week 6 in-person hands-on training allowed us all to meet and connect with a common goal of empowering each other in supporting bereaved families. This included a review of six different scenarios that incorporated diversity, procedure and our communication tools to effectively influence and encourage families to do what feels right to them. We covered bonding, memory making, photography and how to facilitate the uncomfortable but necessary conversations regarding decisions such as having an autopsy and preferences on disposition (cremation/burial).

The mantra behind our training is that Education + Empathy = Empowerment. We know that unfortunately, we cannot fix what is happening, but we can hold space for families as they navigate their new normal. Utilizing each scenario, workshop attendees were able to role play/empathize with the patient by meeting them where they are and learning not just to listen with our ears but our eyes and heart as well.

One of the most empowering parts of our training was facilitated by professional photographer and bereavement doula, Desiree Miller, who showed our nurses that they need not be intimidated by the camera. Each trainee took turns being mom and photographer and were able to capture photos using our dolls with a professional DSLR. Once they took a few practice shots, they were able to see they too can give this gift with practice and patience. We also instructed on how to set up, utilize and sanitize the gifted Cuddle Cot so that each family is given the gift of time, which we know is brief, but can be incredibly meaningful.

To close out the day, Three Little Birds discussed the importance of self-care for professionals especially when serving loss families. We offered examples of physical, mental and emotional self care and gave each attendee a gift certificate to visit our Community Sponsor, Float Haven Spa for some rest and relaxation through their awesome spa services or to purchase products from their store. We are equally as dedicated to supporting medical professionals as we are families.

In addition to the training, Three Little Birds will continue to accompany staff bedside when volunteers are available as they become more comfortable with using our perinatal support kit. The kit includes a boutique of angel gowns in all sizes, crocheted preemie pockets, hats and socks, our support sign trio (loss, pregnancy after loss and twin loss), our reference book (with communication scripts, photography posing guide, consent forms and other printed resources), lactation suppression support creme, copies of our sibling support boo (Remembering Baby Bird), special washcloths that can be kept as a keepsake and our memory making kit for hand/footprints and molds and more. This kit will be utilized between the Labor & Delivery Unit and the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

We asked our newly certified professionals/advocates for their honest feedback and were so happy with their thoughts and suggestions! It is our intention to bring this training to all perinatal professionals throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania as part of our ongoing partnership with Jefferson Health Systems!

If you are a medical professional interested in bringing Three Little Bird's Perinatal Bereavement Training Program to your facility, please complete this form.

Lastly, Kristen and Desiree would like to publicly give our heartfelt thanks and gratitude to our trained advocates for the connection and shared passion for supporting families and maternal fetal health. Watching our labor of love come to life with other kindred spirits with equal enthusiasm and empathy lets us know we are both on the right path to being the change we wish to see in the world and to #shatterthestigma of pregnancy and infant loss!

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