1. Limbo, Rana PhD, RN, CPLC, FAAN
  2. Hutti, Marianne H. PhD, WHNP-BC, FAANP, FAAN

Article Content

This issue of MCN provides a collection of articles that serve to expand nurses' contributions to the development and sustainability of perinatal loss research and practice. The findings apply to the ever-growing number of professionals whose roles interface with bereaved families, including nurses, physicians, social workers, chaplains, and numerous others.


Nurse researcher Dr. Kristen Swanson, who developed a theory of caring from research initially conducted with women who had miscarried, is recognized as a pioneer in nursing research that led to practice changes in this field. In this special topics issue, Nurse-Clarke, DiCicco-Bloom, and Limbo extend Swanson's theory of caring by sharing innovations from research on nursing care for women experiencing stillbirth that can enhance the possibilities of what nurses and others can offer to women and their families when their baby is stillborn.


Fenstermacher and Hupcey explored the needs of Black adolescent mothers, a topic that fosters skill and knowledge for nurses who care for mothers who represent various age-groups, races, levels of development, and clinical settings, among numerous other factors. They note many bereavement support practices have become widely adopted as the standard of care for all bereaved mothers despite lack of evidence on their effectiveness. Their study provides valuable cultural and age-related information that can inform nursing practice, and enhance nurse competence and confidence in caring for perinatally bereaved Black adolescents.


Hutti and Limbo weave together topics that have not previously been linked: grief intensity and a theory of teaching and learning: Guided Participation. Several key points are noted. One is that grief intensity is affected by congruency between what a mother may expect to happen as a result of her baby's death and what actually happens related to the delivery of healthcare. The closer these factors are, the less intense the grief. The need for consistent, compassionate care and recognition of the importance of each moment with a mother and/or family member is a critical feature of high-quality nursing care of perinatally bereaved families. It also serves as a principle for Guided Participation, a theory of teaching and learning that can be applied to all practice situations.


Cacciatore, mother of daughter, Cheyenne, who was born still, has led numerous initiatives to help others whose lives were changed when their baby died. As a social worker, psychotherapist, and researcher, she founded the MISS Foundation and the first Carefarm for the traumatically bereaved. Cacciatore challenges our thinking on the distinctions between grief and depression.


Grief is universal, and the response to it, individual. It is a life experience that provides opportunities for growth and transformation co-occurring with utter devastation and likely life's greatest suffering. Healthcare providers who have the honor of walking alongside those whose baby died must remember that moments matter. When parents experience congruence between the care they expect and the care they receive, their grief intensity is lower. We hope the articles in this special topics series in MCN help nurses and others understand how to make a difference that lasts a lifetime for both the mother and the nurse.



As guest editors, Drs. Rana Limbo and Marianne Hutti express their gratitude to Cathy Mikkelson Fischer, MA, ELS, Gundersen Medical Foundation, for her superb editing ability.