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Dublin: 9 °C Sunday 21 December, 2014

Study highlights lack of training for doctors in supporting parents after stillbirth

Many described the experience as one of the most difficult parts of their job.

Image: doctor support via Shutterstock

A STUDY HAS recommended that consultants receive specialist training on how to support parents who experience a stillbirth or perinatal bereavement.

Currently, few structures are in place to provide training like this.

Published today in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, the study was carried out in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Cork University Maternity Hospital.

It found that consultants consider the personal impact after a patient experiences a stillbirth and perinatal deaths as one of the most difficult parts of their job.

Learning from colleagues

The study has also highlighted that most doctors received little or no training in perinatal bereavement care, and instead learn how to support parents their colleagues.

All those involved in the study recognised the lasting impact the death of a child can have on parents, and that if the correct support is provided by doctors afterwards it can have a positive effect.

“Following our study, we recommend that consultants are encouraged to avail of existing professional and personal support structures, and that the importance of support and self-care are included in medical curricula and continuing professional development,” Daniel Nuzum (@danielnuzum), an author of the study said.

Our study represents both an invitation and a challenge to consultants and to health service managers to acknowledge the clinicians’ burden of loss and to manage what are sometimes unrealistic expectations.

Following on from the study, a local course on bereavement training is to be provided for doctors at Cork University Maternity Hospital.

Read: Ireland’s women share their stories of pregnancy, birth and miscarriage >

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