Washington, Mo. – In the earliest stages of pregnancy, happy couples are often making plans for the birth and life of their babies. Sometimes, though, tragedy strikes and their happiness is replaced by grief.
“It’s hard to know how many parents lose children to stillbirth and miscarriage, and that loss is just as great as losing a child by any other way. It’s tragic and contrary to our dreams and expectations of having a happy, healthy family,” said Jessica Steffens, Mercy HeartPrints coordinator.
To help parents through their grief, Mercy Hospital Washington has started HeartPrints, a support program that provides one-to-one help to parents who have experienced the loss of a baby by neonatal death, stillbirth, miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy or shortly after birth. It is led by a team of nurses, chaplains and others who are trained in perinatal grief education. The team offers support and comfort during and after hospitalization and as long as needed to provide ongoing support through the grief process.
“Oftentimes, families who experience the loss of a baby during pregnancy or shortly after birth tend to feel isolated and pressured through the grieving process. We also know that people grieve differently, no matter what kind of loss we experience,” said Steffens. “HeartPrints validates the feelings associated with loss and grief and offers a supporting environment.”
If there is a need, Mercy HeartPrints will start a support group for parents to meet with other parents who have experienced the same loss. The group would be open to anyone who has experienced the loss of a baby by neonatal death, stillbirth, miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. Parents may attend at no cost, no matter where they are in their grief and no matter how long it has been since their loss.
This comprehensive perinatal bereavement program is based on Bereavement Services/RTS developed by Gundersen Lutheran Hospital in Wisconsin and adapted by Mercy Hospital St. Louis and Washington. For more information or to join the support group, call the Mercy HeartPrints coordinator at 314-251-8500.