Perinatal Palliative Care and Bereavement

Some families come to the Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment (CFDT) and learn that their baby is at high risk of dying either before or shortly after birth. In other cases, the diagnosis may be life threatening, but the outcome is uncertain.

Learning the devastating news that your baby has a life-threatening birth defect, preparing for the loss of a precious child, and coping with grief in the days, months and years that follow is as difficult of an experience as a family can endure. We offer supportive services for families during these difficult times.

We are here to help you plan for and cope with the remainder of your pregnancy and the time around delivery. Our goal is to support your family as you face the unimaginable and to help you down a path of healing.

We do this by:

  • Meeting with your family to discuss understanding of your baby’s condition
  • Discussing the various clinical pathways for neonatal care upon delivery
  • Helping you create a birth plan that is consistent with your hopes, goals and values
  • Bolstering your family's coping strategies
  • Exploring medical decision-making
  • Considering memory making options
  • Providing a safe environment for your family to talk about what you are experiencing

Our palliative care program offers a comprehensive multidisciplinary consultation process, in which:

  • Expedited referrals for consultation are provided to discuss palliative care options with the medical team
  • You and your family are supported in developing a palliative care birth plan – and this plan is shared with the medical and nursing staff to support your family’s wishes

Each member of the CFDT psychosocial support team plays a key role in patient care and offers consistent familial support on the day of palliative care delivery at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia:

  • Social work: family psychosocial assessment, resources, funeral planning and community referrals
  • Psychology: individual and couples’ grief counseling, birth planning and coordination of care
  • Chaplain: spiritual support and baptism/blessings if desired
  • Child life specialist: preparing siblings and supporting memento-making with families

Partnering with referring physicians

As your family explores ideas, creates a birth plan, or struggles with uncertainty, we keep your primary care physicians informed and involved.

We are happy to remain available to your family and your primary medical team if you are not delivering at our Center. Working together, we can develop a plan that will work for everyone.

If you would like to meet us or just learn more about perinatal palliative care services at our Center, please contact the Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment.

Resources for families