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What is a perinatal hospice?

Podkarpackie Hospice for Children looks after seriously ill children and their parents. Now she wants to look after pregnant women who have been diagnosed with an illness of an unborn child.

Medical knowledge regarding the assessment of the child's condition before birth is more and more developed. Once a child's severe illness was diagnosed after birth, and now it happens sometimes even a few months before delivery. In this situation, in parents, there is anxiety, sadness, irritability, a sense of loneliness. These are ordinary relationships under stress. Meanwhile, social expectations have to boast about pregnancy.

The attempt to help in this situation is perinatal hospice (in Greek peri - around, in Latin nascor - give birth). As Rafał Ciupiński, president of the Podkarpackie Hospice for Children Foundation, explains, a perinatal hospice is not a specific place, but rather an idea, a form of psychological and medical care for a family expecting a child diagnosed with a serious illness or disability. Psychological care is meeting parents (but also other family members).

-This parents will decide on the fate of pregnancy, but they must be aware that both interruption and maintenance will have consequences - says Agnieszka Jankowska-Rachel, a psychologist from the Podkarpackie Hospice for Children. Interruption of pregnancy results in post-abortion stress, which weighs on the psyche. If pregnancy is maintained, we must prepare parents for possible death of the child after delivery or during pregnancy. And if a child lives, we talk about the possibilities of help after his birth. Many parents perceive their own and incurably ill children's situation as hopeless, and we draw on the experience of hospices that there are ways to support even in such difficult moments of life.

In the hospice for children in Warsaw, the psychologist is already at the ultrasound office, which parents get with disturbing symptoms in their child. He accompanies them in developing the diagnosis.

- Hence our idea to cooperate with pregnancy pathology departments, with ultrasound surgeries, obstetricians, neonatology, with specialists from wards, on which a sick child can come into the world - adds Agnieszka Jankowska-Rachel. But doctors must also be prepared for this. This is the idea of help before hospice or home hospice enters.

Dead - even before birth - the child is entitled to a funeral and parents have the right to be mourned. A support group for parents in mourning has been operating in the Rzeszów hospice for a long time.

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