Care of women who have experienced a stillbirth
Repository Posting Date2019-09-19T18:27:25Z
Author DetailsSanele Lukhele, University of Johannesburg; Christél Jordaan, Midwife Exclusive; and Christa van der Walt, North-West University
Lead Author Sigma AffliationTau Lambda at-Large
Level of EvidenceQuality Improvement
Research ApproachTranslational Research/Evidence-based Practice
Background: Evidence has shown that the care rendered to women experiencing stillbirths influences their grieving process (Saflund, Sjogren & Wredlin, 2004:137). Thus, it is important to improve the quality of the education of midwives on bereavement care. Globally there are 2.6 million stillbirths occurring every year (WHO 2016:12) with 7500 stillbirths occurring daily (WHO 2016: Online). The labor ward of an inner city hospital in South Africa reports up to three stillbirths a month. Midwives in the labor ward reported feeling ill-equipped to appropriately care for women who experienced stillbirths.
Purpose: The purpose of this project was to improve the quality of care of women who experienced stillbirths.
Methods: To get permission and buy-in, a presentation was made to hospital management. Midwives were trained by a professional bereavement care councilor on supportive steps to follow during and immediately after the birth of a stillborn baby. A checklist was formulated based on the Canadian Pediatric Society statement on perinatal loss. Midwives were educated on how to collect birth mementos. The team then compiled a memento booklet to be given to every bereaved mother.
Results: During the initial training, some midwives reported symptoms of compassion fatigue. Midwives who participated in the project indicated that it helped them to express empathy to bereaved mothers. They felt that the memento booklet allowed mothers to take the memories of their babies home as opposed to leaving empty-handed. The midwives made suggestions for some changes in the booklet to make it user-friendly and practical. The practice of providing birth mementos has been integrated in the ward policy on the care of women experiencing perinatal loss. Much appreciation and deep gratitude is verbalized by the bereaved women, and the midwives indicate that they feel empowered in the care of these women. They consider the memento booklet as valuable and important.
Conclusion:It is important to empower midwives in the care of bereaved women, and to create memento booklets is a valuable and practical way of supporting them.
Implications: It was evident that the success of a quality improvement project of this nature is dependent on the support from hospital management, as it implies policy changes, as well as training opportunities that have to be created, and even if it is low cost, there are still some expenses involved in the memento booklets.
Conference NameInter-professional Education and Collaborative Practice for Africa Conference
Conference HostSigma Theta Tau’s International Tau Lambda at-Large Chapter
Amref International University
WHO-FIC Collaborating Centre for the African region
Africa Interprofessional Education Network (AfrIPEN)
WHO Regional Office for Africa
Conference LocationNairobi, Kenya
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