Bereaved Parents: Insights for the Antenatal Consultation

Am J Perinatol. 2021 Jul 12. doi: 10.1055/s-0041-1731651. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Objective: The study aimed to explore experiences of extremely preterm infant loss in the delivery room and perspectives about antenatal consultation.

Study design: Bereaved participants were interviewed, following a semi-structured protocol. Personal narratives were analyzed with a mixed-methods approach.

Results: In total, 13 participants, reflecting on 17 pregnancies, shared positive, healing and negative, harmful interactions with clinicians and institutions: feeling cared for or abandoned, doubted or believed, being treated rigidly or flexibly, and feeling that infant's life was valued or not. Participants stressed their need for personalized information, individualized approaches, and affective support. Their decision processes varied; some wanted different things for themselves than what they recommended for others. These interactions shaped their immediate experiences, long-term well-being, healing, and regrets. All had successful subsequent pregnancies; few returned to institutions where they felt poorly treated.

Conclusion: Antenatal consultations can be strengthened by personalizing them, within a strong caregiver relationship and supportive institutional practices.

Key points: · Personalized antenatal consultations should strive to balance cognitive and affective needs.. · Including perspectives from bereaved parents can strengthen antenatal consultations.. · Trusting provider-parent partnerships are pivotal for risk communication..