Pregnancy and Infant Loss: Survey of Experience of Families

Pregnancy and infant loss has quite an impact on families, health systems, and communities which is quite pervasive. As part of the loss and post the loss, compassionate, concerned, empathetic and skilled support from professionals and organizations is of significance, however, it is lacking at times. Historically, there has been very limited information about how families in Canada access existing care and supports around the time of their loss and their experiences of receiving such care.

Methodology Adopted
An online cross-sectional survey, comprising of both closed-ended multiple choice questions and one open-ended question, was completed taking into consideration about 600 people in Ontario, Canada, which had a focus on the experiences of care and support of individuals following pregnancy loss and infant death. Quantitative data was checked for analysis descriptively using analytics and frequency distributions. Responses to the one open-ended question were thematically analyzed putting into use a qualitative inductive approach. Overall result was captured to get an essence of the experiences underwent by the members of the affected families.

Output Captured
The majority members of the families put under the cross-sectional survey came up with the result that around the time of their loss, they felt they were not adequately informed, supported and cared for by healthcare professionals, and that their healthcare provider lacked the skills required to take proper care in the concerned situation. Almost half of respondents of the survey reported experiencing stigma from providers, exacerbating their experience of loss and putting them under tremendous stress. Positive encounters with care providers were marked by timely, individualized, and compassionate care. Families indicated that improvements in care could be further enhanced by providing information and explanations, discharge and follow-up instructions, and through other discussions related to supports programs that are available in these situations.

The Final Say
There is a potential for healthcare professionals to make a positive difference in how loss is experienced and in overall well-being of individuals by recognizing the impact of the loss, minimizing uncertainty and isolation, and by working with proper thought and care within physical environments that are usually not designed to bear the brunt of the loss. Ongoing support is of prime importance and should be tailored to the custom needs of the parents concerned. Prioritizing information and specialized education for professionals providing these services and care for the population for which this workforce is prepared may help to reduce the mental torture experienced by bereaved families.