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Clinics for pregnancy after perinatal loss highly valued, more needed: study

Services that support pregnant women who have previously experienced miscarriage, stillbirth or the loss of a newborn should be added to hospitals in more locations across Australia, mothers who participated in a study of pregnancy after loss clinics (PALC) have said.

The research, published in BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, explored 10 mothers' pregnancy-to-birth journey and the effectiveness of a PALC.

The Mater Mothers’ Bereavement Support Service in Brisbane developed the hospital-based service and a multidisciplinary team of midwives, alongside a registrar, sonographer, counsellor and consultant obstetrician, which is aimed at providing collaborative emotional and clinical care that was tailored to the specific antenatal and birthing needs of the women.

University of Queensland researcher Grace Branjerdporn said grief over perinatal loss is often felt during the woman’s next pregnancy and the mother can experience heightened emotions, such as anxiety, fear and hypervigilance, as well as a range of longterm implications.

The study indicated that the clinic was successful in supporting women during this critical time, Branjerdporn said.

“There were only a few hospitals in Australia with such a clinic, and evidence showed that these services should be expanded,” she explained, adding a number of the women recommended that new clinics be developed in other locations to support access for other families experiencing perinatal loss, perhaps even making it a standard service in all hospitals.

Branjerdporn said the mothers who spoke with the research team had overwhelmingly positive experiences.

She added they preferred consistent caregivers familiar with their prior experiences, plans and birthing decisions, as this diminished their distress and improved feelings of security. “Feedback from the mothers included being thankful for support over their subsequent pregnancy anxieties, and gratitude for having a team that knew their background.”

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