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You and Your Health

New Nurse Continuing Education Course to Help Families Coping with Infant Death

New Nurse Continuing Education Course to Help Families Coping with Infant Death

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More than 28,000 infants in the United States die before their first birthday each year, according to the most recent national statistics. Now, nurses can get the latest information and expert guidance on coping and grief issues for families from a new March of Dimes training module.

The new educational module is a self-directed course for nursing professionals who care for women and infants. It offers historical, theoretical and clinical knowledge on how to provide effective nursing care for families coping with the loss of a newborn or a pregnancy. It also addresses the potential effects that caring for bereaved families can have on nurses themselves.

“There is no ‘right’ way to deal with loss,” said Liza Gene Cooper, LMSW, director, March of Dimes Family-Centered Care. “The loss of a child before or soon after birth is traumatic. Families go through periods of terrible grief, and a whole range of emotions, involving not only the loss of a baby but also the loss of everything that could have been.”

The educational module recognizes that everyone grieves differently, and the expression of mourning varies by individual, family, culture and religion. Particularly when it comes to perinatal loss, there are unique features that must be acknowledged by all professionals who deal with bereaved families.

Being on the front lines of patient care, nurses play a critical role in helping bereaved families deal with their loss, the March of Dimes says. The new module can help nurses be knowledgeable and caring as they address informational, emotional and medical needs of families confronting perinatal loss. The learning module also acknowledges that nurses who encounter challenging life and death situations at work have to pay attention to their own grieving as well, and find effective avenues of personal coping and group support.

“It is my hope that this educational module provides a sound foundation of knowledge and understanding for nurses who work with bereaved families. The goal is that that all families who experience the tragedy of losing a baby is cared for sensitively and expertly by a professional nurse who understands,” said Denise Cote-Arsenault, Ph.D., RNC, FNAP, associate and Brody Professor of Nursing at the University of Rochester School of Nursing,  author of the course material.

The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide and its premier event, March for Babies, the March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. For the latest resources and information, visit marchofdimes.com or nacersano.org. Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.