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Keywords:

  • perinatal loss;
  • peer support;
  • grief;
  • storytelling;
  • boundaries

Poster Presentation

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  2. Poster Presentation

Background

Several co-workers were sharing stories, each one of them having recently cared for a friend with a fetal demise. They realized that lessons learned during their experiences could benefit fellow nurses. The nurses have found that sharing their stories with fellow nurses has provided education and has been therapeutic for them in coping with their own grief.

Case

The first nurse was called at home by close family friends with the news of a 28-week fetal demise and was asked to come to the hospital. Her presence as their nurse was requested by the patient. She cared for them during her shift and then stayed over into the following shift as a support person until their daughter was born still.

The second nurse arrived at work and was assigned a patient with a full-term demise, and the nurse realized that she knew the patient through a church group. The patient and her family did not object to having a friend care for them, saying that she was a “blessing” to them. She stayed with them for her 12-hour shift and was able to provide care and support during her next shift after their son was born.

The third nurse dropped off her son at daycare and was told that her son's teacher had not felt the infant move and no heart beat was detected. Upon admission to labor and delivery, the teacher asked for the nurse, who then cared for her through labor to delivery of a stillborn daughter.

Conclusion

It is always difficult to care for a patient with a fetal demise but when the nurse knows the patient on a personal level it adds a layer of complexity and emotion to the situation. Because of this the nurse should evaluate her effectiveness and ability to provide quality clinical care to her friend. The privacy rights of the patient must also be considered and she should be given the opportunity to request another nurse if she is uncomfortable being cared for by a person who knows her.