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Care Around Stillbirth and Neonatal Death (CASaND) Clinical Practice Guideline

Supporting healthcare professional wellbeing

The nature of providing care around the time a baby dies is intense and complex. Healthcare professionals in maternity and newborn care provide significant support to parents and families/whānau and play a central role across the continuum of care from the moment of the bad news, through birth and the postpartum period, and into subsequent pregnancies.48

If you’re not caring for yourself, then you’re less able to care for others.”44

In Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand, free confidential peer support for healthcare professionals is also available via Hand-n-Hand Peer support (Helping Australian & New Zealand Nurses and Doctors). In Australia, CRANA’s Bush Support Services provide free confidential 24/7 telephone psychological support for all rural and remote health workers and their families/whānau. Other resources are listed on the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists website.

However, many healthcare professionals receive little training in caring for themselves, despite this being a professional requirement in many national and international quality standards and guidelines.8,9,49 Healthcare professionals report feelings of guilt, frustration, and helplessness, alongside feelings of sadness and distress when supporting parents who experience perinatal death.2,4 Unless acknowledged and addressed, these emotional effects can lead healthcare professionals to feel overwhelmed, to distance themselves from grieving parents, and to experience compassion fatigue and burnout.50

Consensus-based recommendation 8.11

Maternal and newborn services should ensure that healthcare professionals who provide care around stillbirth and neonatal death have access to formal and peer support and are encouraged to prioritise their social and emotional wellbeing.

Education and training for healthcare professionals
Review processes and quality improvement
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Western Pacific Regional Office of the International Stillbirth Alliance
Coordinating Centre, Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Alliance, Perinatal Society of Australia and New Zealand

Level 3, Aubigny Place
Mater Research Institute
Raymond Terrace,
South Brisbane QLD 4101
The University of Queensland Faculty of Medicine

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