Doctors not trained to support grieving parents after stillbirth

Categories: Research.

Yesterday the Irish news platform, the journal, reported on the abstract of a qualitative study published in BJOG: An international Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology looking at the impact of stillbirth on consultant obstetrician gynaecologists. The study highlights the lack of training provided to doctors to enable them to provide appropriate support to parents when their baby is stillborn and to provide perinatal bereavement care. Doctors who do learn to provide this support, do so from their colleagues. 

According to the study, consultants consider the personal impact after a perinatal death or when a patient experiences a stillbirth as one of the most difficult parts of their job. Those involved in the study were unanimous in their acknowledgement of the lasting effect the death of a baby has on parents and for the need for appropriate support to be provided by the doctor at this stressful time in order to ensure a more positive outcome from the experience. 

Daniel Nuzum (@danielnuzum), one of the authors of the study is quoted as saying “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.”  

He went on to say: “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.”

Read the full report here.