WISSP - Counseling

Counseling

Following a stillbirth parents have two primary questions: "Why did this happen?" and "Will this happen again?" Understanding the answers to these questions is important for parents, not only for their future reproduction planning but also in the resolution of their grief.

Therefore, all parents need and deserve an opportunity to talk with someone about the summary of the results of their baby's assessment.

This counseling should, in addition to grief assessment and emotional support, include a discussion of the specific diagnosis, if one was generated, recurrence risk for a stillbirth in any next pregnancy, and available options for dealing with that risk.

Who provides such counsel will vary. Some attending physicians will prefer to counsel the parents themselves. Different institutions may have individuals of varying backgrounds (e.g. OB, pathologist, genetic counselor, nurse practitioner etc.) who have developed special expertise to whom families can be referred. Alternatively, the parents can be referred for consultation through a clinical genetics service. The National Society of Genetic Counselors website is a good place to start when looking for genetic counseling resources. Referral for genetics consultation is particularly appropriate when malformations have been identified in the baby, and in those circumstances in which additional extensive family evaluation seems warranted.