Pediatric Palliative Care: Building Memories That Last a Lifetime

Every expecting mother hopes their pregnancy will be routine, without any concerns about the health of their fetus. In most pregnancies, the delivery date comes, and a healthy baby is a result. For thousands of women each year, however, there are complications. In the most serious of these cases,, a condition is present that limits the likelihood of the fetus’s viability. Circumstances like these can be devastating for the expectant mother and her family. The presence of a pediatric palliative care team can help the mothers make it through this trying time. These teams work to help the mother navigate the hard decisions that may have to be made and ensure that the time they spend with their child is memorable.

What Is The Goal Of Palliative Care In Difficult Pregnancies?

A palliative care team’s purpose is to provide comfort and support throughout pregnancy with low viability. Palliative care involves transitioning an infant to a comfort care protocol. This means that an infant who will not survive is removed from treatment and made comfortable for the duration of life. This change is made when all lifesaving interventions are exhausted, and no change to the survivability of the infant is achieved. By working to keep the child comfortable, the mother and their family are able to spend more quality time during the child’s final days or hours.

To achieve this, there are a few points palliative care teams focus on:

  • Focus On The Infant – The team’s overarching goal is to ensure that the family receives as much undisrupted time with the child as possible. While providing comfort care to the infant, they attempt to limit necessary disruptions.
  • Collaborative Care – There are multiple approaches to care used during this time. Bereaved parents will receive support and consultation. The most important part of this is giving them room to share their feelings in a judgment-free environment.
  • Supporting Parents Wishing – The parent’s desires during this time are addressed. This includes their preferences for the presence of other family members, spiritual/religious support/ special outfits, hand or foot casts, etc. An important part of this process is not separating the parents from their children during this time. Every moment that can be spent building memories is provided.

Central to the process is ensuring the parents are empowered by providing them with the information necessary to make informed decisions. The specialists will also avoid painful procedures and limit the physical suffering of the mother and child.

Ask Your Specialists About Palliative Care Teams

Preparing ahead of time can help you should the unthinkable happen during your pregnancy. Your fetal care specialist will help you learn about the options available for palliative care at the facility. Going through this trying experience can be emotionally draining and devastating. While nothing can salve the pain of losing a child to medical complications, you can spend their last moments building important memories. Reach out to your Fetal health specialist to learn more.