Perinatal Palliative Care Program
Perinatal loss is a unique lifelong parenting and bereavement experience. The purpose of the UnityPoint Health – Meriter Perinatal Palliative Care Program (PPCP) is to assure that services are provided to families whose baby has a life limiting illness and is expected to die within a limited time after birth. This is accomplished through an interdisciplinary and holistic approach.
The Perinatal Palliative Care Program (PPCP) is a component of the Meriter Pregnancy and Infant Loss Program that helps families whose infants are diagnosed prenatally with a life-limiting condition such as Trisomy 13, Trisomy 18, anencephaly, or bilateral renal agenesis. Before it was discovered that a baby's life may be short there were plans for before, during and after his or her birth. Although those plans change, the goal of perinatal palliative care is to make the time with the baby meaningful in a way that is best for the family. Families are looking for compassionate, family-centered care. The PPCP helps families preserve hope while preparing for the possibility or certainty of the death of their baby. The PPCP offers families continuity of care with the knowledge that a variety of resources are available to them.
A special team of professionals provide care coordination for families during pregnancy, at the birth and after delivery of their baby. Parents are identified either through diagnostic tests for suspected fetal abnormalities or through an unexpected abnormality discovered during a prenatal ultrasound. They are provided counseling with a Genetic Counselor and are contacted by the PPCP Care Coordinator who coordinates personalized care for the family. Options for the pregnancy, birth, and postpartum care are explored in consultation with the Maternal-Fetal Medicine (MFM) staff, while planning for the baby after birth is done in consultation with the neonatology staff. A care plan is created with the family and specialized providers that focuses on what is important for the family in terms of the birth of their baby and his or her comfort and well-being after delivery.
Throughout the pregnancy, the Care Coordinator continues to meet with the family to provide counseling and resources as well as to review and revise their care goals as needed. Resources may include spiritual care, mental health support, bereavement information, emotional support, and childbirth education options.
A referral can be made to Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, a non-profit organization of photographers who specialize in remembrance photography for parents suffering the loss of a baby. Upon admission to the hospital for the birth, the care plan is accessible to all staff to ensure personalized care. Supportive bereavement care is provided by dedicated nursing and medical staff. A memory box, footprints, mementoes, and photographs are provided. Post-discharge bereavement support is provided with follow-up calls, cards, and perinatology consults or other referrals as needed.
Pregnancy and Infant Loss Program
The Pregnancy and Infant Loss Program recognizes that perinatal loss is a unique and lifelong parental and bereavement experience. Whether a perinatal loss occurs early in pregnancy or at the time of delivery, Meriter is dedicated to providing families with specialized care utilizing a compassionate, family-centered and holistic approach.
For more information about the Meriter Perinatal Palliative Care Program or other component of the Pregnancy and Infant Loss Program, please contact us at (608) 417-6667.