A Chat With Dvora Entin on Our Perinatal Loss Training: Clinical and Supportive Care

Tell us about the training.

PSI has initiated a brand-new training on perinatal loss. This includes loss for any reason, including termination for medical reasons, miscarriage, multiple losses, and other challenging loss experiences. The training addresses provider interactions inside and outside the hospital system, focused on support and training for practitioners to facilitate difficult conversations surrounding loss. We have a conversation on grief and how to support those experiencing loss, getting as specific as language and body placement during these interactions. The training is designed to teach practitioners how to hold compassionate conversations and how to walk with someone in their grief.

The statistic of 1 in 4 pregnancies ending in a loss of some kind may be surprising to most people. Too many get the conversation wrong – doctors, nurses, and therapists included. We can and must do better. The new training is aligned with PSI’s emphasis on education playing a key role in quality care, and was developed using strong, data-driven information.

We have offered this training twice, and it has been so impactful for our participants. The course is CME-approved. The audience for the training is capped to make participants feel comfortable and confident with the material. The training in November is in Philadelphia, PA, but training can come to you as well. We are available to conduct this training at your preferred location, whether at a hospital, private practice, or other organization.

Who is the training designed for?

This training is designed for anyone who interacts with patients and clients who may experience perinatal loss – social workers, nurses, doctors, pediatricians, doulas, midwives, therapists, ultrasound technicians, psychiatrists, NICU neonatologists, lactation consultants, volunteers, and more.

Specific PSI volunteers (help line, support coordinators, mentors) should consider the training, as it is focused on compassionate conversation regarding perinatal loss and all volunteers may encounter a help-seeker dealing with loss.

Why is the training in person rather than a virtual training?

It is important to model behavior during this training, which is not possible to do in the virtual space. We are dealing with a very sensitive topic, and the opportunity to conduct the training in-person is too valuable to pass up.

Generally, we do not have widely used, solid conversation surrounding grief. With this training, we’re striving to create an accessible, trauma-informed narrative. For example, if you ask an OB-GYN about perinatal death, they often have little to no training on the subject. The training is designed to offer support for the practitioner as well as teach the practitioner how they can effectively support the patient. A well-trained provider can provide a safe and supportive environment for their patients.

Why is this training so critically important?

Poor communication in conversations surrounding grief and loss invalidates the grief. Saying things like “you survived” and “you’ll get pregnant again” tells the patient “you don’t have the right to grieve.”

Instead, we need to say. “You have the right to grieve. This meant something to you.”

Consider how important it is for any practitioner or volunteer who interacts with a patient who may experience perinatal loss to have the tools for compassionate conversation. For example, if a baby dies at birth, the lactation consultant must be ready to assist the mother with next steps with lactation now that there is no baby to feed.

The training includes material on initial conversations involving loss, but also conversations in the aftermath of a loss. Conversation on loss is very nuanced. You need to learn how to do it, then relearn, then relearn again.

About the presenters:

Dvora Entin, LCSW, PMH-C specializes in reproductive and perinatal mental health, with advanced training by Postpartum Support International, ASRM and the MISS Foundation in compassionate bereavement.  Dvora is a clinical consultant for several non-profits and a lead trainer for Postpartum Support International. As an adjunct professor at Wurzweiler School of Social Work, she developed a Maternal Mental Health curriculum for MSW students and teaches Coping with Loss. A recent graduate of Council For Relationship’s Sex Therapy post-graduate training, Dvora maintains a group private practice in Philadelphia and consults and presents nationally about mental health and supporting those in struggle.

Joanna C.M. Cole, PhD, PMH-C is a perinatal psychologist and manager of psychosocial programs with the Richard D. Wood Jr. Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, caring for expectant families diagnosed with a birth defect. She provides psychotherapy to identify, understand and help balance the emotional toll of a complex pregnancy within the context of other life stressors. Dr. Cole counsels individuals and couples on effective coping strategies, communication and emotional preparation for different stages in the medical experience, from pregnancy diagnosis and birth process, through the neonatal intensive care stay and well after discharge. She earned her PhD in Clinical and School Psychology from the University of Virginia. She completed a pediatric psychology internship and an adolescent and young adult health fellowship at Boston Children’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School. She is a certified birth doula and is trained as an alcoholism and substance abuse counselor. She is currently training with the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists to become a Certified Sex Therapist. Dr. Cole is an active member of Postpartum Support International where she acts as the Curriculum Manager and International Trainer in Perinatal Mental Health and Perinatal Grief and Loss. She is also a member of the International Marcé Society and the National Perinatal Association which works to develop guidelines that define clinical support for parents during their baby’s time in intensive care.

The next training is November 15-16, 2022 in Philadelphia, PA. The registration deadline is November 6, 2022.