This week I have the opportunity to attend the Perinatal Loss Sensitivity Training program at a local hospital. Well, “local” meaning it’s in the metroplex but depending on traffic it can be a couple hour drive! It is a four hour program designed to help professionals working with pregnancy to provide support when a pregnancy ends in miscarriage (loss before 20 weeks) or stillbirth (loss after 20 weeks gestation.) I am assuming it will also discuss how to support parents when an infant has a fatal condition and will die during the pregnancy or soon after birth, or situations with premature and medically fragile children.
Because we have personally dealt with pregnancy losses in the first trimester and the anticipated loss of our son later in pregnancy, we had the opportunity to interact with a variety of birth professionals. Some were absolutely fantastic, one chaplain in particular who visited me several times while I was on bedrest at the hospital. I still have handouts she provided as we discussed our options for how we wanted to handle our son’s arrival (and expected death. Thankfully those discussions were made irrelevant as he’s now a very healthy six year old, despite his arriving 17 years premature!) The chaplain was sensitive and compassionate and clearly well trained in this work! We unfortunately also dealt with medical staff that clearly were not in the sensitivity training! Years later their words carry a sting, and I hope through this training to avoid ever speaking such words to another parent.
Because I am now a birth professional, and because I’ve some experience with this firsthand, I’m grateful for this opportunity to learn more. While I hope to not ever need to use these skills with a client, the reality is that many families experience perinatal loss and I’m thankful I will be able to better help them.
Update: The class was wonderful and the instructors handled a challenging topic very, very well. There were three doulas present and six NICU and L&D nurses. It was incredibly informative and I’m so glad I attended. (I’m also very grateful my nursing baby didn’t mind my absence!)