Require OB-GYNs in the US to be trained in Trauma-Informed Patient Care

Require OB-GYNs in the US to be trained in Trauma-Informed Patient Care

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Monika Hendrix started this petition to Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education

My name is Monika and I am a Loss Mom to two babies who both died unexpectedly in my second trimester of pregnancy. I am also an active member in the loss mom community, and I have a virtual coaching practice where I connect regularly with loss moms all over the world. 

After my losses, (spaced 9 years apart, both in separate states), each time it was clear to me that most OB-GYN and MFM Physicians in this country are not trauma-informed. 

The words they use to communicate with patients about their losses are often harmful rather than helpful. 

Choice and consent are two very important pillars of trauma-informed care.

There is an overall lack of choice and consent in the way perinatal loss patients are cared for. 

Many of my fellow loss moms have agreed: There are major flaws in the US healthcare system when it comes to women’s reproductive health and guidance for perinatal loss patient treatment.

After my first baby died, I was told it was a “fluke”, and that it probably would not happen again. I was concerned and I wanted further testing done to see if maybe something was missed that could offer some answers. My concerns were dismissed and I was not offered any post-loss testing on myself to try and find a cause. 

The current guidelines set forth by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists states that the standard repeat pregnancy loss panel (bloodwork) should only be offered to women if they’ve had 3 or more consecutive losses.

ONE loss is one too many, and I don’t believe that any women should be forced to wait until she’s lost 3 of her babies to receive the proper testing to determine if there’s an underlying cause for her losses. 

This means that we are not given the CHOICE to ask for testing, as many physicians will dismiss our concerns if we haven’t had 3 consecutive losses. 

Meaning we, the mothers, are forced to blindly trust our doctors to care for us in subsequent pregnancies knowing that it can happen again. This is not only dismissive, it is traumatizing. 

After our babies die, or we’re given a diagnosis that our babies are incompatible with life, we’re shuffled into consult rooms or asked to wait in a reception area filled with swollen bellies.

We’re given a piece of paper, a few pill prescriptions and asked to decide if we want to be induced or have our babies surgically removed from our wombs. We’re sometimes asked if we want an autopsy performed on our babies. We’re told that we don’t have much time to figure all of this out as the longer we wait, the more we risk hemorrhaging, and infection, etc. 

Sometimes, we aren’t even provided an option to have our baby’s remains prepared for burial or cremation.

The risks of delivery options are often not fully disclosed. 

We are not offered any mental health counseling and our losses are not seen by doctors as traumas but as “flukes” and “rare occurrences.” 

The language needs to change.

The patient care “standard” needs to improve. 

We are traumatized and we are TIRED of not feeling heard, seen, and validated in our grief. 

The post-loss care that many of us receive is void of compassion, patient education, empathy and the emotional support that we deserve to receive.

According to a study published online in December 2019 in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology showed that pregnancy loss can lead to enduring post-traumatic stress symptoms, including intrusive or unwanted thoughts about the pregnancy loss, nightmares or flashbacks, hyperarousal, and avoidance of anything that reminds women of their loss.

Studies also show that 1 in 3 women who experience perinatal loss go on to develop PTSD.

We can change those numbers with better, trauma-informed care from our physicians. The OB-GYN’s and specialists that care for us in those crucial moments, hours, days, weeks, and months following the loss of our babies can make a lasting impact on our mental health by the way they treat us and the words they use to communicate with us. 

The standard of care for perinatal loss needs to be reformed by The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). 

We need better care: doctors and specialists who are trained to be trauma-informed who can answer all of our questions without dismissing our concerns. 

What we want: 

-To require ALL US-Based OB-GYN and/or Maternal Fetal Medicine Physicians to receive specialty training on trauma-informed perinatal loss care as part of their formal medical training and education. 

-To require all OB-GYN and/or MFM Physicians to educate the loss family about postpartum PTSD symptoms after perinatal loss. 

My hope is that one day, we’ll all have access to trauma-informed perinatal loss care.

Together, by signing this petition, we can alert the organizations responsible for educating our physicians. We can help women who experience perinatal loss receive the trauma-informed care they deserve. 

The care many of us we wish we had. 


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