Recommendations for palliative and bereavement care in the NICU: a family-centered integrative approach

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Abstract

Technological advances have increased our ability to detect a life-threatening, life-limiting or lethal problem early in pregnancy, leaving parents months to anticipate a death or a prematurely born infant. Babies can also be born with unanticipated problems that could lead to death. In either scenario, perinatal palliative care should be offered as a strategy for family support. Since the preponderance of professional training focuses on saving lives, many health professionals are uncomfortable with palliative care. This article's purpose is to define best practices for the provision of family-centered perinatal and neonatal palliative care and provision of support to bereaved families experiencing anticipated and unanticipated life-limiting conditions or death of their infant. An overview of core concepts and values is presented, followed by intervention strategies to promote an integrated familycentered approach to palliative and bereavement care. The concluding section presents evidence-based recommendations.

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