Wednesday 06 March 2019

Pregnancy loss, in the form of early or late miscarriage, or stillbirth, neonatal or infant death, occurs in 20-25% of pregnancies and is the most common complication of pregnancy.

Dealing with the loss of a baby or pregnancy is a very difficult time for parents and families and providing bereavement care is an integral part of any maternity service.

Led by INFANT PI Dr Keelin O’Donoghue and with significant input from the INFANT/CUMH Pregnancy Loss Research Group, the accumulation of two year’s work on the HSE National Standards for Bereavement Care Following Pregnancy Loss and Perinatal Death was presented to 130 attendees at the Bereavement Forum at University College Cork last Saturday.


Dr Keelin O Donoghue, INFANT PI and Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, CUMH pictured with HSE programme manager Riona Cotter.

The HSE National Standards for Bereavement Care Following Pregnancy Loss and Perinatal Death was implemented to enhance bereavement care services for parents who experience a pregnancy loss or perinatal death. Used as a resource for both parents and professionals – it provides the template for maternity units to develop a compassionate, caring service for parents who lose a baby due to miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal death.

Speaking on behalf of the National Implementation Group, Dr Keelin O’Donoghue said: “As we reach the end of the second year of the Implementation Programme we are delighted to see that progress has been made in the implementation of the Bereavement Standards nationally. We are grateful to all who have been involved in our programme of work. Putting these Standards into practice demonstrates our commitment to compassionate and high-quality care for parents while raising awareness of pregnancy loss and recognising its wide impact. We hope that this important work, which we know enhances care for bereaved parents and families, will now continue in all the 19 Maternity units, overseen by the Health Service Executive’s National Women and Infants Health Programme.”

Throughout the day, doctors, midwives, researchers, parent and patient groups shared their insights and learnings from the two-year implementation programme. It was of particular importance to the National Implementation Group that the National Bereavement Standards be informed and influenced by parents who have experienced pregnancy loss, and parent representatives have been key to its success.

Keelin and HSE programme manager, Midwife Riona Cotter travelled all over Ireland, visiting all 19 maternity hospitals where there is now a dedicated bereavement team in place implementing these standards.

The Pregnancy Loss Research Group at CUMH includes INFANT PhD students, Indra San Lazaro Campillo, Stacey Power, Aenne Helps and Tamara Escanuela Sanchez, INFANT research midwife AnnaMaria Verling, NPEC staff researcher Dr Sarah Meaney, UCC Lecturers Dr Margaret Murphy and Dr Daniel Nuzum, alongside MSc, medical students and other clinicians. Working collaboratively with the common goal – to provide support and information to parents bereaved by early and late pregnancy loss, promote their emotional, psychological, spiritual and physical well-being, as well as improving professional practice and facilitating research in this area.

Copies of the HSE National Standards for Bereavement Care following Pregnancy Loss and Perinatal Death are available to download online.