FlickrCC_Rainbow

Imagine getting special care during your pregnancy after loss (PAL), not just from an obstetrician who is a specialist in maternal fetal medicine, but from a whole team of experts who care only for PAL moms. Such a clinic actually exists! The Rainbow Clinic, at St. Mary’s hospital in Manchester UK, delivers care just to PAL pregnancies. Headed by obstetrician Dr. Alexander Heazell, who is complemented by a team of midwives and nurses, who all care exclusively for women pregnant after a loss, the clinic serves as a model of care which perhaps one day will be recreated at hospitals across the UK and the world. In Manchester the Rainbow Clinic gets called as soon as your stillbirth is diagnosed, so they are often the ones who deliver your angel baby and care for you between pregnancies as well. This is incredible continuity of care and expertise gives incredible peace of mind for PAL moms.

Dr. Heazell spoke at the International Stillbirth Alliance conference in Vancouver last week. He explained why their program of careful monitoring coupled with compassionate understanding of the anxieties we face in a pregnancy after a loss meant better outcomes for mothers. And just as important, they have never had a repeat stillbirth.

Perhaps what was most incredible was how the changes were simple and low cost. One small change is adding a sticker to the front page of every patient chart with a rainbow on it, which alerts the staff that this is a PAL pregnancy. By better educating all the health care professionals we come into contact with, it creates a safe space where our fears can be acknowledged as coming out of our past experience. Women in the Rainbow Clinic get a greater number of scans, and have their placenta more carefully monitored. They watch carefully for signs your baby is smaller than gestational age. Women are counseled not to count kicks, but to be aware of their babies normal movement and call in if they feel anything is amiss.

It would be fabulous to see a Rainbow Clinic in every major hospital, where we could receive additional care, but not always feasible. I asked how this care could be scaled for those of us living in rural or remote communities. Dr. Heazell answered that many of these changes are possible anywhere, as they relate more to how women are treated by their doctor or midwife or in the hospital where they are receiving their care.

Are you getting care from the Rainbow Clinic, or a similar specialist service? Tell us what you like best about it here! Let other PAL moms know about your experience.

You can also watch an interview with a PAL mom who was treated at the Rainbow Clinic: Kate’s Story.

*Photo Source: Rainbow by Steve Snodgrass, Creative Commons License 2.0

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