Background/Purpose: Although perinatal loss remains a common occurrence and nurse-midwives are instrumental in this care, the American College of Nurse-Midwives has yet to issue a position statement or professional care guidelines for providers. The purpose of the paper is to explore the literature to answer the research question: how can nurse-midwives best support families who have experienced a perinatal loss? The specific focal areas will examine best practices for providers based on current evidence. Theoretical Framework: Kristen Swanson’s (1991) Theory of Caring will serve as the conceptual framework to address the research question. Swanson’s middle range nursing theory of caring was conceived using perinatal contexts, including pregnancy loss. The five processes that comprise the theory of caring are central to providing compassionate care and supporting women and families who are experiencing pregnancy loss. Methods: Twenty-one scholarly articles were reviewed with the intent to assess what women and their families experience after a perinatal loss and determine what interventions are effective so nurse-midwives can best support families. Results/Findings: Many women who have experienced a perinatal loss may feel intense emotions that may last for several years, and cause further grief into subsequent pregnancies. These emotions are individualized and may require various interventions. Findings failed to show that certain assessment tools or particular therapies were more successful or effective than others, but instead revealed the necessity for a personalized approach to bereavement care, further research, and provider training. Implications for Research and Practice: Further study is needed with more randomized clinical trials with larger samples and more diverse subjects over a greater period time in order to develop professional guidelines of care. Perinatal loss can be a complex issue for nurse-midwives to navigate and a “one size fits all” approach will not work with all families. When working with families who have experienced loss; acknowledgement of the loss, open dialogue, therapeutic communication (i.e. active listening, empathy, and validation), and providing detailed information and reassurance are important parts of the support nurse-midwives can provide. Conclusion: Perinatal loss is experienced differently by individuals and they may have unique needs in order to cope appropriately; therefore, a universal approach to care management will not work for everyone. By assessing for risk factors for psychological issues after a perinatal loss, using assessment tools tailored to perinatal loss, focusing on what is important to women and their families, and providing personalized interventions, nurse-midwives can honor families’ perinatal losses and walk alongside them in their journey.
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Egner, T. M., & Kluck, J. J. (2019). How Nurse-Midwives Can Best Support Families Who Have Experienced Perinatal Loss [Masterʼs thesis, Bethel University]. Spark Repository. https://spark.bethel.edu/etd/184