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An exploration of connections between a mother and her unborn in preterm labor


The purpose of this special feature is to elaborate on a unique physician–patient interaction between a neonatologist and a pediatrician established during the pediatrician's personal experience with the onset of labor between 22 and 23 weeks’ gestation. As the two are both versed in conventional aspects of neonatal care including prenatal counseling, the neonatologist thought that he had more to offer the expectant mother holistically. Thus, he decided against approaching her as an information source and contribute to the customary data-dumping format that can be both frightening and dehumanizing. Instead, he wanted to focus on her individual experience of pregnancy and the healing aspects of care. The most important lesson received from the interaction is the value of being present with another. This sense of ‘being with’ applied to the neonatologist and the mother from their initial phone conversation to their in person times, and to the mother with her unborn permitting interaction in a meaningful way. Fostering each of those connections in alternative ways was valuable in this prenatal experience.

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We would like to acknowledge Debora Paterniti, PhD and Deborah Maciejewski for manuscript review and encouragement.

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Correspondence to J M Milstein.

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The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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Milstein, J., Jain, A. An exploration of connections between a mother and her unborn in preterm labor. J Perinatol 32, 325–327 (2012).

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  • preterm labor
  • compassionate presence
  • connections
  • being with
  • alternative therapies


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