Infant Journal
for neonatal and paediatric healthcare professionals

Helping perinatal nurses cope with patient death

The death of an infant or maternal loss can be distressing for the staff that cared for them. Grief is an emotional reaction to loss and must be recognised among perinatal and neonatal nursing staff. Coping with stress and grief is important to enhance a nurse’s quality of life and decrease compassion fatigue and burnout in the workplace. This article considers the background and evidence of the problem, recommendations for change, and outcome influences. Healthy coping strategies are outlined, as well as ways in which staff and management can help each other to cope with the stress and grief of patient loss.

Catherine A. Pankonien
Assistant Professor

Sandra M. Groth
Assistant Professor

Midwestern State University, Wilson School of Nursing, Wichita Falls, Texas, USA

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perinatal loss; coping strategies for nurses; nurse grief and coping
Key points
  1. Grief is a normal part of working with patients and their families.
  2. Developing coping strategies to resolve grief and supporting each other can decrease compassion fatigue and burnout as well as help to provide excellent nursing care.
  3. Nurses need to be cared for and supported if they are to carry on caring and supporting patients and their families.

Also published in Infant:

Butterfly Project: supporting parents who have lost a baby from a multiple pregnancy
Infant readers will be familiar with two previous articles describing the process that healthcare professionals and research staff at Newcastle Neonatal Service and Newcastle University have used to develop guidelines and improve support for parents who have suffered the loss of a baby from a multiple (eg twin) pregnancy. This Focus article looks at the development of the Butterfly Project, discussing recent feedback from parents, support groups and health professionals and reviewing the resources that are available for staff and parents in the area of reproductive loss.