What to say for FD's.......?

  1. Hi all, I am a nursing student as of this fall, but have been an OB triage tech for several years. The subject of fetal demises is difficult for everyone, often worse the greater the gest. age. When I come across one, I often provide care to this person before, during and for awhile after the discovery of the FD. I do not always know what to say or how to react. I feel heartbroken for the parent(s), and usually don't say much. Sometimes I sense the need to tell them it is not their fault, or just hug them. I always feel awkward and am just not sure what I should be doing for them. Any advice? I want to support the patient, but don't know how. SG
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  2. 10 Comments

  3. by   bam_bam
    I been on both sides and that means alot. Don't be afraid to let your emotions show. It is ok to cry with a patient.

    Beth
  4. by   SmilingBluEyes
    BE yourself, be geniune, be available. The advice you got above was dead-on. You can't go wrong just saying how sorry you are and offering to be there if/when the family needs you. It's ok to cry and FEEL. But remember to take care of YOURSELF, in all this, too.
  5. by   purplemania
    even if all you say is "I am so sorry for your loss. Is there anything I can do for you?"
    "Is there anyone I can call for you?" "Would you like to see our Chaplain?" "Do you want visitors at this time?" Keeping the family comfortable and allowing them to grieve is a caring action on your part.

    I am like you, though. My first instinct is to avoid uncomfortable situations. But I have learned that the simplest things are the most appreciated at this time. I once brought a Mom some hot chocolate without her requesting it first. She acted like I gave her the moon. I think it was just the act of kindness, which anyone can do, that made her so grateful.
  6. by   unikuelady
    You can also help the parents make memories. Inform them (and family members if applicable) that they can take pictures (go out and get a good disposable camera), dress the infant (bring in their own clothes/blankets) toys or meaningful items to take pictures with etc. I have had several parents state that they would have had someone pick up the above if someone would have told them that these were options. Also mention that there are several hand/footprint casting kits at craft stores that can be used. Some hospitals provide these items for fetal demises-others don't. Give the parents the opportunity to be informed about what is going to happen to them and their child before/during/after delivery. I have found that being direct with compassion is the best way. When a parent asks a question-even if it seems inappropriate at the time-answer it honestly.
    Example: Father wanted to know about funeral homes to contact while mom was in labor. He was very upset and unable to attend to his wife until he was given this information. Once given this information-he was able to concentrate on his wife and support her.
    After saying I'm sorry that this is happening to you, is "being" there for your patient and supporting family members.
    The taking care of yourself is not to be underestimated. Caring for these patients is very emotionally draining. Talk with other staff taking care of this family, express your feelings to them, cry if you need to. Write in a journal at home about your experience.
    I feel best when I "know" that I have done everything in my power to enable the family to "Parent" their child....to say hello...then say goodbye.
  7. by   bam_bam
    Quote from unikuelady
    You can also help the parents make memories. Inform them (and family members if applicable) that they can take pictures (go out and get a good disposable camera), dress the infant (bring in their own clothes/blankets) toys or meaningful items to take pictures with etc. I have had several parents state that they would have had someone pick up the above if someone would have told them that these were options. Also mention that there are several hand/footprint casting kits at craft stores that can be used. Some hospitals provide these items for fetal demises-others don't. Give the parents the opportunity to be informed about what is going to happen to them and their child before/during/after delivery. I have found that being direct with compassion is the best way. When a parent asks a question-even if it seems inappropriate at the time-answer it honestly.
    Example: Father wanted to know about funeral homes to contact while mom was in labor. He was very upset and unable to attend to his wife until he was given this information. Once given this information-he was able to concentrate on his wife and support her.
    After saying I'm sorry that this is happening to you, is "being" there for your patient and supporting family members.
    The taking care of yourself is not to be underestimated. Caring for these patients is very emotionally draining. Talk with other staff taking care of this family, express your feelings to them, cry if you need to. Write in a journal at home about your experience.
    I feel best when I "know" that I have done everything in my power to enable the family to "Parent" their child....to say hello...then say goodbye.
    Making memories is so important! Anything tangible that the parents can have. My most cherished memories of my daughter are my momentos, pictures, footprints, a hat, blanket, a card. That is all they will have so it is of the utmost importance in mind.

    Beth
  8. by   VivaLasViejas
    I've been on both sides of this issue as well, having lost a full-term infant to anencephaly 20 years ago. There is nothing you can say or do that will ease this sort of loss, however, just giving the parents a hug, praying with them (if you and they are comfortable with this), and offering to assist them with the many little details that accompany a death, lets them know that they are cared for and that their infant was important, no matter how brief his or her life was. That's what they'll remember years from now, when the pain that once pierced the heart like a knife has become a dull ache deep inside and life has long resumed its normal rhythms.........they'll remember how you were there for them in their hour of need, and they'll think of you with affection and admiration. It's how I remember my OB nurse, Terri, in whose arms my own baby drew her last breath, and who was there 18 months later to celebrate with us the birth of a new daughter. I haven't seen her since then, but I'll never forget her......and that, IMO, is what nursing is all about.

    Trust me, you'll do fine........you already have everything you need to be a good nurse, and to be what bereaved parents need in their time of sorrow.
  9. by   mother/babyRN
    Go with what is in your heart . Tears come. NEVER say it was meant to be....Sometimes no words. You will figure it out. Once I just gave a patient hug and said if you give a hug you get a hug. She was 40 weeks with a demise being cared for by two pregnant nurses..That is all I said. My only contact with her. Months later I got a magnet in the mail that I still have on my locker. She made it for me..It says simply, If you give a hug you get a hug...Sometimes that is all you can do....
  10. by   fergus51
    Personally, I think it's more about what NOT to say. Don't say "You can always have another one" or "It's for the best" or "At least you didn't have time to get to know the baby and become attached" or even "It's God's will" or "I know how you feel" (unless you really do).

    I always think heartfelt condolences are appropriate and sometimes silence is just fine. It's ok to admit you don't have any words that will make this experience easier for the parents.
  11. by   bam_bam
    anything about having an angel in heaven. To some people that is comforting but not to all.

    Beth
  12. by   enfermeraSG
    It is nice to see so many of you with great advice for this difficult subject. Thank you to everyone that is sharing their own personal experiences with fetal demise, it is so helpful to everyone reading the posts. I am sad that so many lives have been touched by such a painful event. I am sorry for the those of you who have had to go through that, but am very grateful for your side of the story. Only you know what felt right at the time, and it is a great help to all of us who want to provide good support but aren't sure how. Thanks again, SG

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