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  • Narratives and embodied knowing in the NICU.;
  • Money Socialism?
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Parents described the importance of feeling cared for and respected by the medical team and nursing staff during this difficult time in their life. So many were so caring and kind. We felt it was disrespectful and the body should have been carried out of the room or it should have waited until after we left.

We did not want to see that. All other aspects of our hospital stay were handled appropriately and respectfully. Some parents described feelings of regret for what they wished had happened differently or that they could have done differently. Among those, the longing to have spent more time with the baby and to have made more memories with their infant was a significant recurrent theme that was the most prevalent theme of the qualitative questions.

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I wish I had been told that they were breathing. In this study we show that counseling on the personal care options available to families for their dying or stillborn infant is performed early in relation to the lethal diagnosis being made, but usually after birth. Providing this information to families in a timely manner is important on multiple levels. Second, when parents are confronted with an unfamiliar and stressful situation, they rely heavily on guidance by the medical team.

The importance of memory making with their infant is not only one of the four major themes that emerged in our family interviews, but missed opportunities to make additional memories was also the predominant component of parental wishes and regrets. While these numbers may be altered secondary to recall bias, and in some cases the specifics of the clinical scenario may have precluded counseling, the numbers nonetheless suggest an opportunity for the implementation of additional safeguards to ensure counseling. Our results suggest that rather than being overwhelmed by options for the personal care of their infant at the end of life, parents appreciate being offered options even if they ultimately choose not to utilize every one offered to them.

Thus, it is important that healthcare providers offer sufficient options. Our study demonstrated a wide range in the number of options offered to each parent, as well as a wide range of options utilized by parents. It is interesting to note that some options, such as holding the baby, were offered to all parents, possibly because of the strong evidence of the utility of this practice. For example, being afforded the opportunity to bond with a dying baby is imperative for grieving and the lack of opportunity to do so leads to complicated grief and mental health issues [ 20 , 21 ].

In fact, parents who were handed their infant to hold without being asked if they wanted to hold the baby reported feeling less frightened and more comfortable than parents who were asked [ 22 ]. On the other hand, certain options were rarely offered, such as bathing the baby, possibly because knowledge of this option requires advanced skills in infant end of life care.

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Thus, more education in infant end of life care and memory making may be warranted. Similarly, some options were not as commonly utilized by families as other options. The option to hold the baby was utilized by most parents and the option to keep the baby in the room with the mother for an extended period of time was utilized by all parents.

In fact, studies have demonstrated for decades that grieving mothers want to be able to see their infant for an extended period, sometimes even several days after the death [ 23 ]. At the same time, some options were less commonly utilized. Among these were the options surrounding having a support person in the room and who that support person should be, the option of sibling visitation, as well as the involvement of spiritual care. The utility of each of these options is heavily dependent on interpersonal relationships as well as individual beliefs; hence the variability in utilization is expected.

The options of lighting and music wishes were also not often utilized. While music therapy is an important component of pediatric palliative care [ 26 ], which has been shown to reduce stress in NICU patients [ 27 ], it may not be a concept many parents are aware of as a medical intervention and thus they may question the utility or the appropriateness of it in the setting of end of life care and grieving.

Our data suggest a difference in utilization rates of options such as holding the baby and spending additional time with the baby, which may be regarded as necessary options that enable bonding, parenting and the creation of memories, compared to the other aforementioned options that constitute stylistic approaches to bonding, parenting and the creation of memories that greatly depend on interpersonal relationships, cultural, religious and other beliefs that vary among individual parents.

Additionally, the one third of mothers who were offered additional options all chose to utilize those options. A likely interpretation of this finding is that the offering of additional options reflects the healthcare provider tailoring additional options to the patient and their specific needs beyond the most common options offered. Alternately, it may mean that parents often experience their own situation as normative without the means to compare, so whatever they were offered seemed appropriate to them.

Despite variability in the utilization of individual personal care options, there is consistency among parents on the overarching themes, including how they felt about the number of options offered and how many options they utilized irrespective of additional factors such as whether they knew their infant may not survive, the timing of counseling, the location of death or the spiritual or religious self-identification of the parent.

The major themes that emerged from the survey reveal that bonding with and parenting their baby, as well as making memories, is a central component of the experience for parents. Furthermore, they look to their healthcare providers for guidance on how to accomplish this, and expressed wishes and regrets related to what did not occur in terms of memories and bonding. These findings are consistent with research suggesting that parents want options for memory making and encouragement from healthcare providers if they are initially hesitant, and regret what they did not do, for example in the realm of bereavement photography [ 28 ].

Additionally, they expressed the need to feel supported, respected and nurtured in the process. Thus, our results suggest that the guidance parents receive from the healthcare team on personal care options available to them has a great impact on the parental experience. Importantly, the demographics of parents who responded to the invitation to participate in the study were significantly different than non-respondents. The respondents were older and more likely to be white, non-Hispanic, married and to have private insurance, as well as being mothers, not fathers.

This is an important caveat to our findings, which mirrors respondent profiles of similar studies [ 29 , 30 ], and begs the question of how to capture responses from the more diverse population. Demographic and patient-specific factors need to be considered in addressing the question of how the clinical approach can be modified to improve the parental experience by respecting the needs of all demographic groups. Furthermore, marital quality, mental health and social support before the loss are all correlated with parental grief [ 6 ], suggesting that the non-respondent group, based on their demographics, might be at increased risk.

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Thus, a future direction of research should be aimed at addressing the experiences of the diverse non-respondent population. However, such response rates are expected in pediatric end of life studies utilizing the opt-in method of recruitment as opposed to the opt-out method [ 32 ]. Some Institutional Review Boards, including ours, require multiple steps for bereaved parents to opt-in to research studies. Additionally, there was a wide range in gestational age, parity and neonatal diagnosis, as well as in parental responses, suggesting sufficient variation in parental experience.

While this study addressed the content of the counseling on personal care options, an important aspect of such counseling that was not addressed in detail in this study is the quality of the actual communication during the counseling session [ 38 , 39 ]. Whether evidence based communication skills for difficult conversations were used and whether their uniform use may influence the results of such a study was not addressed in this study but is a very important aspect for future study. Another aspect to consider when interpreting this data is that the two locations in which the surveyed parents experienced their loss were quite distinct.

The typical diagnosis is different in deaths occurring in the NICU and the labor and delivery room, thus the clinical scenario and the timeline are often different. A situation in which parents learn of a lethal diagnosis and receive counseling in the outpatient setting is very different from preterm premature rupture of fetal membranes at a previable gestational age with an extended period of induction of labor in the labor and delivery room, compared to a premature feeding and growing infant in the NICU who develops fulminant necrotizing enterocolitis.

In addition to the range in clinical scenarios, each family is unique in terms of their ethnic, cultural and religious background, their social environment, mental health and support network. Thus, a discrete yet broad-based approach to the personal care options counseling of each individual family is necessary. What services are offered to some may not work for others.

These observations are important in designing interventions to suit the unique needs of the bereaved families of infants. Psychological complications after stillbirth--influence of memories and immediate management: population based study. Prevention of traumatic stress in mothers of preterms: 6-month outcomes.

Neonatal Bioethics The Moral Challenges of Medical Innovation Pdf Book

Unexpected: an interpretive description of parental traumas' associated with preterm birth. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. Miscarriage and stillbirth: time since the loss, grief intensity and satisfaction with care. Living with a crucial decision: a qualitative study of parental narratives three years after the loss of their newborn in the NICU. PLoS One. Perceived role in end-of-life decision making in the NICU affects long-term parental grief response.