A Symphony of Life: One Team's Approach to Perinatal Palliative Care

Sunday, October 25, 2015
Capitol/Congress (Marriott Marquis)
Rachel Thienprayoon, MD and Brian Schreck, MA, MT-BC, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH

Description of Innovative Program:

This session will discuss challenges in perinatal palliative care and pediatric hospice and identify interventions by music therapy and the interdisciplinary team, to provide the best and innovative support to pregnant women and their families from the diagnosis of an infant’s life-limiting condition through delivery, life, death and bereavement care.  Music therapy interventions utlizing recordings of sounds of life will be described.


StarShine Hospice is a dedicated pediatric hospice group within the umbrella of the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center homecare group.  The StarShine perinatal hospice team provides support to women and their families who have been told that they are pregnant with a baby with a condition for which there is no cure.  Care begins during pregnancy and continues through labor and after the death, and may occur in the home, obstetrical office, labor and delivery, and other locations.  Patients frequently describe how socially isolating it is to carry an infant who is expected to die.  Anticipatory grief, lack of acknowledgement by friends and family, and lack of support by obstetrical staff are consistent concerns voiced by our patients. 

The case of a previous patient will be used to illustrate our team's approach in perinatal palliative care.  Our music therapist will share recordings of one infant’s heartbeat taken during an obstetrical visit, as well as sibling heartbeats recorded in the home, put to music chosen by the family.  Such recordings are an innovative and unique tool that our music therapist has utilized to celebrate the baby's life in utero, unite the family in this shared experience, comfort the mother during labor, and allow legacy work and memory making before and after the infant's death.