Birth when life is short

Birth When Life is Short – a short summary of the positive trajectory of the development of bereavement care in pregnancy loss in Ireland.


Caoimhe Ni hÉalaithe, Keelin O'Donoghue, Daniel Nuzum

Book chapter
Bereavement care, Fatal fetal anomaly, Perinatal palliative care, Termination of pregnancy for fetal anomalies
Full Citation

Ní Éalaithe, O’Donoghue K, Nuzum D. Birth when life is short. In Ryan S, ed. Birth and the Irish: A Miscellany. Wordwell Press; 2022.

Link to Publication


Pregnancy and birth are, for the most part, happy and exciting life experiences. Unfortunately for many, they can be shrouded in uncertainty and grief. It is a sad reality that not all babies will survive, and the diagnosis of a fatal fetal anomaly (FFA) or life-limiting condition (LLC) often causes this newly woven tapestry of expectation and hope to unravel. For generations, the impact of these diagnoses and the restrictive laws in Ireland meant many weathered the storm bereft and alone. Recent changes to the law now mean women are permitted to lawful terminations where an antenatal diagnosis of a FFA/LLC has been made. In tandem to these changes, the National Standards for Bereavement Care were devised to guide care in two circumstances; antenatally diagnosed FFA/LLC, and the inevitable birth of a preterm pre-viable fetus. Each type of pregnancy loss has its own care pathway, with step-by-step guidance to aid healthcare workers and families to develop a comprehensive and tailored care plan to look after them throughout their bereavement, and beyond. Significant progress has been made in recent years in the delivery of bereavement care in pregnancy loss and it is a trajectory we should aim to remain on. 

Pregnancy Loss Research Group

Pregnancy Loss Research Group, Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, University College Cork, Fifth Floor, Cork University Maternity Hospital, Wilton, Cork, T12 YE02, Ireland,