Lasting Legacy: Maternal Perspectives of Perinatal Palliative Care

Heidi J. Kamrath, Erin A Osterholm, Rachael Stover-Haney, Thomas George, Susan O'Connor-Von, Jennifer Needle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: Many of the leading causes of infant mortality are diagnosed prenatally, presenting providers with the ability to present perinatal palliative care planning as an option. Objective: Our study adds to the literature both by describing infant interaction with the health care system and by gaining deeper understanding of the maternal experience after being offered perinatal palliative care. Methods: The study was conducted at a public university-based medical center in the Midwest. Phase 1 consisted of a retrospective review of electronic medical records of 27 mother-infant pairs offered perinatal palliative care, 18 of whom elected to develop a perinatal palliative care. Phase 2 consisted of a focus group and interviews of seven of the mothers. Results: In the initial phase of this study, results revealed differences regarding the infant's end-of-life trajectory, including location of death, number of invasive procedures, and death in the setting of withholding versus withdrawing life-sustaining treatment. Highlighting that without a perinatal palliative care plan in place, the default treatment for infants with prenatally diagnosed life-limiting conditions is likely to be invasive and painful with often times minimal likelihood of long-term survival. Analysis of interview and focus group data revealed three themes: care, choice, and legacy. Conclusion: The authors used their experience with the health care system to draw implications for practice from the focus group and interview data, which care can serve to promote women feeling cared for and cared about, as well as promote opportunities for hope during a fragile pregnancy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)310-315
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of palliative medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was partially supported by a grant from the Benjamin Walker Hanson Neonatology Fund, part of the University of Minnesota Foundation. The authors would like to thank Sonja J. Meiers PhD, RN who provided expertise on focus group text analysis. Funding Source: Ben’s Buddies, Roseville, MN.

Publisher Copyright:
© Copyright 2019, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers 2019.

Copyright 2019 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • hospice
  • palliative care
  • perinatal
  • prenatal


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