Journal of Perinatology (2015) 35, S19–S23. doi:10.1038/jp.2015.145

Recommendations for palliative and bereavement care in the NICU: a family-centered integrative approach

C Kenner1,2, J Press3 and D Ryan4

  1. 1School of Nursing, Health and Exercise Science, The College of New Jersey, Ewing, NJ, USA
  2. 2Council of International Neonatal Nurses, Yardley, PA, USA
  3. 3Perinatal Bereavement Services, Crouse Hospital, Syracuse, NY, USA
  4. 4Nurse Education Program, Elmira College, Elmira, NY, USA

Correspondence: Dr C Kenner, School of Nursing, Health and Exercise Science, The College of New Jersey, PO Box 7718, Ewing, NJ 08628-0718, USA. E-mail:

Received 4 September 2015; Accepted 18 September 2015



Technological advances have increased our ability to detect a life-threatening, life-limiting or lethal problem early in pregnancy, leaving parents months to anticipate a death or a prematurely born infant. Babies can also be born with unanticipated problems that could lead to death. In either scenario, perinatal palliative care should be offered as a strategy for family support. Since the preponderance of professional training focuses on saving lives, many health professionals are uncomfortable with palliative care. This article’s purpose is to define best practices for the provision of family-centered perinatal and neonatal palliative care and provision of support to bereaved families experiencing anticipated and unanticipated life-limiting conditions or death of their infant. An overview of core concepts and values is presented, followed by intervention strategies to promote an integrated family-centered approach to palliative and bereavement care. The concluding section presents evidence-based recommendations.