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When babies pass away do we have to take care of the diseased babies?

I really want to be a labor and delivery nurse, and I want to know when babies pass away do we have to take care of the diseased babies?

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Faith’s Answer

When any patient passes away the Nurse and Nursing Assistant’s or Technicians will generally be at bedside and/or checking on patients that are in the transitioning process. Patients often need pain medication more frequently as well as re-positioning every 2 hours. In the Labor and Delivery Unit the Nurse is absolutely full hands on after an infant passes away. You will be trained in compassionate communication and act as a support for Mother, yes babies who are still born or pass away during a hospital stay will be attended to by the Nurse, the Nurse will make a call to call the Hospital Chaplain and grief counselor to offer support after Mother has spoken to the physician . Caring for patients who have expired/passed away is something you must be comfortable with as it is part of the Nurses scope of practice. Death and dying are taught in Nursing School, it is something that you will have to learn from experience, always ask a more experienced Nurse about responsibilities and appropriate and honest bedside manner. Often you may have a room full of family as well as Mom and baby, they are allowed as much time as needed to hold their baby and say their goodbyes. When mom is ready the nurse will call a funeral home and baby will be transported to the funeral home. Generally babies who pass are given funeral services for free. I live in NM and when a baby dies the funeral home will do all they can to take care of helping mom with planning services and burial at not cost. That may be different elsewhere. Alway as another Nurse for help or call your Unit Manager or Supervisor if you don’t know what the Hospitals protocol is.

Faith recommends the following next steps:

The Nurse often takes on the roll of grief counselor as well as being the Nurse. Depends on what type of job you have.
Often there are no words that will help, just being present is enough.
Speak to the Hospital Chaplain for more advice
Each person processes death differently, so ask your patient if they would like some time alone? They may want you there, you have to be professional and sometimes you’ll cry on your way home from work.
Ask for specific sensitivity training on Death and dying.
Thank you comment icon 08569891879 Lưu Hay
Thank you comment icon Your advice was so helpful! Simranjit
Thank you comment icon Also, most babies that pass are not diseased, but have a birth defect or problem that occurred during the birthing process. As a nurse you will work with many diseases and disorders and no matter what your patient has had you will learn to treat the patient who has or had a disease. What they had is secondary to them being your patient. Every single person is likely to be a patient at some time in their life. Everywhere that I have worked. The nurses took a lead role in postmortem care. Crystal M. Wadsworth
Thank you comment icon Hey Crystal, I'm assuming that the student meant "deceased baby," but you make a good point! All patients deserve respect and treatment regardless of what they have Gurpreet Lally, Admin
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Kim’s Answer

Can you please explain what you mean by "taking care of" the deceased babies?

I'm not in the medical field, but, I would hope that when a baby passes away during delivery that it would be cleaned up, wrapped in a blanket, and given to the mother to hold, if she so chooses. Losing a child is a very traumatic experience. Hopefully the hospital has grief counselors. But, they won't be in the delivery room. At one time or another, if it's your job or not, you will find yourself in a position of having to provide emotional support. I was a police officer, at the airport, and stood by many times with a stranger whose loved one was receiving what would hopefully be lifesaving care.

I doubt this answers your question, but, I hope it gives you something to think about. No matter what we do or where we are, we are human beings first and foremost, and need to treat others with dignity and compassion.
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Faith’s Answer

The deceased baby will get a bath, a diaper, and be swaddled in a blanket with a little beanie on his or her head. This may happen differently it depends on what mom wants. Often baby is held by mom for a couple of hours and then gets a bath and swaddled up prior to going to the funeral home.
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Tonya’s Answer

This is a great question as you consider the role of a labor and delivery (L&D) nurse. As a past practicing L&D nurse, nurse midwife, and experience with deceased babies, I will provide you with a brief background, my experience, and resources. For clarity on words, the baby may be diseased and then deceased.

Palliative and End-of-Life care is the role and responsibility of labor and delivery nurses and midwives (roles in perinatal nursing) (ANA, 2016). Even though we would like to believe perinatal nursing includes only the birth of life, this is not the reality of the specialty or human beings.

Palliative care provides the opportunity to improve “…the quality of life of patients and that of their families who are facing challenges associated with life-threatening illness, whether physical, psychological, social, or spiritual…” (Palliative Care, 2022). End-of-Life care is care for the patient and family when death is near (ANA, 2016). End-of-Life and palliative care is a specialty in itself, and perinatal nurses need to be competent in the care of patients and families during this special time.

I am honored to have worked with families during palliative and end of life care.
The care includes the opportunity to listen, hold hands, cry, discuss feelings of blame, the future, honoring the baby, acknowledgement that a future baby does not replace the baby who died, learning to know how and what to communicate, parents setting boundaries, wrapping / dressing the baby, and taking pictures (if parents would like). The care also includes caring for one’s own grief as a nurse and colleague healthcare professionals’ grief. Many are impacted by the death of a baby.

The experience is tough and may make one doubt choosing L&D and/or thankful for being present to support parents, family and colleagues.
You decide and you can change your mind even after entering the specialty.
I did not change my mind; I knew it was part of being present to care for families.

Resources:

Nurses’ Role and Responsibilities in Providing Care and Support at the End of Life (2016). American Nurses Association Position Statement.
Website link: https://www.nursingworld.org/~4af078/globalassets/docs/ana/ethics/endoflife-positionstatement.pdf

Palliative care (2020). World Health Organization.
Website link:
https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/palliative-care

Crawford A, Hopkin A, Rindler M, Johnson E, Clark L, Rothwell E. Women's Experiences With Palliative Care During Pregnancy. J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs. 2021 Jul;50(4):402-411. doi: 10.1016/j.jogn.2021.02.009. Epub 2021 Mar 26. PMID: 33775641; PMCID: PMC8286290.
Link to abstract of article: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33775641/

Cheri Van Hoover, CNM, MS and Lisa Holt, RN, MSN, MS
Midwifing the End of Life: Expanding the Scope of Modern Midwifery Practice to Reclaim Palliative Care
Journal of Midwifery & Women's Health 2016; 61(3):306?314
Link to article: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27148997/
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Marie’s Answer

Yes
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