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Loss Parent/Advocate Training

To support our mission of bridging the gap between patients and providers, Three Little Birds also trains perinatal loss parents and  advocates to support families bedside by encouraging memory making and bonding while capturing these delicate moments with the gift of infant remembrance portraiture.

For these volunteers, serving as an bedside advocate helps them feel they are parenting their baby while finding healing through giving back and supporting others walking similar journeys.

Course content

Perinatal Bereavement Training - Introduction

The first Three Little Birds video for Week 1 serves as an opportunity for all attendees to be on the same page as we begin discussing the intricacies and taboos of pregnancy and infant loss. We understand many attendees have personal or professional experience serving loss. This video provides statistics from the March of Dimes, the truths, myths and lies surrounding miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal loss and SIDS. More importantly, attendees will begin to step into the fog of grief that families face when receiving the devastating news that their pregnancy will end prematurely, and their much-wanted child will not be coming home as planned. Additionally, trainees will view the film, Don’t Talk About the Baby and begin reading Companioning at a Time of Perinatal Loss by Jane Huestis, RN and Marcia Jenkins, RN.

Perinatal Bereavement Training - Sacred Bonds

From childhood, the concept of motherhood has been pressed upon women through our own experiences, but also the media, television, movies and are reinforced by tropes that don’t allow for all birth outcomes to be explored. The reinforcement of societal norms can have a tremendous negative impact on birthing people, as well as how we react to tragedy. Here, we discuss the physical, emotional and spiritual bonds parents carry with their children and how this is reinforced throughout the world. Additionally, we explore the definitions and impact of sympathy vs empathy and how invoking empathy can not only provide the family with the best care, but empowers the professional when caring for these families.

Perinatal Bereavement Training - Understanding Grief

Grief itself, is complicated. Perinatal grief is a unique experience that no two people experience the same way, even if mourning the loss of the same child. Using the Kubler Ross and Dyer Models of Grief, this chapter explores the comprehensive layers of grief for all members of the family, including siblings, grandparents, aunts/uncles and friends. Also equally as important, this chapter explores the grief responses of medical professionals and how that can have a positive or negative impact on the experience and choices of the family.

Perinatal Bereavement Training - Advocating for Loss Families

How do you advocate for families experiencing the worst day of their lives? Advocacy is turning what is, into what should be. Empowerment comes from knowing, that while we want to make the situation better for this family, there really is no way to fix or change what has happened. The responsibility of the medical professional/ advocate is to help families navigate this new fog of grief and know when to introduce resources and information for the next steps in the journey. This concept is called holding space. This chapter explores how to effectively hold space for families (and ourselves!) so that families feel empowered in their decision making and feel supported throughout the journey from delivery to discharge.

Perinatal Bereavement Training - Patient Perspectives

For a parent experiencing loss, the only difference in their heart is the birth method. Whether experiencing a first trimester miscarriage, a second or third trimester loss, the actual loss of a much-wanted baby is the same. This chapter explores how to delicately validate and comfort families at any stage of loss and how important neutral vocabulary is when effectively communicating as a medical professional. Two theories are also detailed – Fear Tension Pain and the Neuromatrix Theory of Pain, which can have a negative impact on the birthing experience. This chapter discusses breaking through fear to empower parents in meeting and loving their children, before discussing other needs and considerations like disposition or pathologic testing.

Perinatal Bereavement Training - Diversity in Loss

While cultural competency can take years to cultivate in a professional setting, there are ways of using this knowledge to help guide conversations and understand when an answer is a hard no or yes. For example, If a Jewish family says their preference is burial, we should not push cremation based on the guidelines of their faith. This chapter is backed by recent studies that reflect the grief and mourning ritual and needs of various religious, ethnic, cultural and other backgrounds that may influence a family’s decision making, needs and additional levels of support. Death ritual and rites of passage are explored in American Christianity, atheism, Judaism, Islam, as well as considerations/ traditions for African, Latino, Filipino, South Asian/Asian and LGBTQIA families and others.

Perinatal Bereavement Training - Working with Medical Professionals

Navigating the healthcare system as a medical professional or advocate is difficult. Between red tape and the current political climate around reproductive rights, this chapter explores the hierarchical organization of most perinatal departments (Labor/Delivery, Maternal Fetal Medicine and NICU) so all support people serving the family understand the responsibilities and expectations of others. This chapter also discusses the role social services plays in supporting families, along with the lack of training and presence they ultimately have in the hospital setting. This chapter ends with details on how professionals and advocates can push for standardized bereavement care for perinatal loss families.

Perinatal Bereavement Training - Beginning your journey as an advocate

This chapter for Week 4 begins to bring all the perspectives and methods together for action in giving families everything they need to have a positive bonding experience. This includes reinforcing the five steps to advocacy and the standard gifts Three Little Birds offers (time, validation, memory, dignity) when serving families bedside. Memory making options include hand/foot molds or prints, the ritual of bathing, as well as other considerations like singing, reading or sharing this moment with others in the family (siblings, grandparents, etc.). Additionally, our preferred method of notification, processing of consent forms and how to encourage families to find healing through the nest of support Three Little Birds offers are discussed.

Perinatal Bereavement Training - Perinatal Bereavement Photography Basics

While there are taboos and stigmas surrounding bereavement photography, it is not a new concept. At the turn of the industrial age, cameras were what equate to the newest smartphone to hit today’s market. Once a new technology, families used it to help memorialize and validate their baby and family’s existence in a way that was revolutionary at the time. Today, bereavement photography has grown to be a comfort to families as we have found ways to soften the photos to where it is less about death and more about the love that is shared between family members and their baby. Examples are shown on how to capture these images and encourage parents and family members to participate, even when it all seems impossible to fathom.

Perinatal Bereavement Training - Support Group Facilitation

As advocates, Three Little Birds offers loss families a familiar and friendly face to return to when they are in need of resources and information regarding post partum support, disposition options or simply just a friend who "gets it". This chapter discusses Three Little Bird's journey in supporting families through consistent virtual and in person support groups, inclusive memorial events and even some outside-the-box options that support physical, emotional and spiritual healing. Support group options and facilitator training strategies are detailed.

Perinatal Bereavement Training - Personal and Professional Boundaries

Because trainees are all coming to this workshop with their own personal and professional experiences, it is imperative to discuss boundaries and self-care for oneself. This line of work is special and requires a higher demand of one’s physical, emotional and spiritual self. Therefore, this chapter discusses knowing when to say no when needed, knowing when to release the burden of care and how to address and validate one’s own emotions while managing the emotions of others.

Perinatal Bereavement Training - Hands on Photography Trainign

Our final week of training walks trainees through how to navigate a typical Three Little Birds session through our Bedside Bereavement Program. Be sure to note the different poses and methods used when discussing various scenarios (i.e., stillbirth, NICU support withdrawal, extreme prematurity, etc). This chapter gives a brief overview of basic editing including desaturation, cropping, editing out blemishes and more. Even a novice can gently edit photos!

Resource packages

Sample Resource page

BASIC PACKAGE

Each trainee will receive the following digital resources with their registration:

  • Weekly study guides with reference information

  • Patient perspective profiles

  • Photography posing guides, consent forms and checklists

Registration options

LOSS PARENT/ADVOCATE RATE - $150

Include six weeks of training and basic resources package.

Tuition is a tax-deductible donation.

LOCAL TO PHILADELPHIA/SOUTHERN NEW JERSEY?

Click here to see if you are eligible for our "Girl Named Jimmie" Advocate Scholarship!

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