Perinatal Palliative Care

Perinatal palliative care encompasses holistic care of the fetus or newborn baby diagnosed with a life-limiting condition either in pregnancy or soon after delivery and includes providing support to the parents, siblings and other close family members. It requires timely decision-making, planning and a focus on improving their quality of life through a continuum of care from diagnosis, through death and into the bereavement period. Chapters cover:

  • Introduction to Perinatal Palliative Care
  • Providing palliative care in the antenatal period
  • Care and support during labour and immediately after delivery
  • Care and support during the neonatal period
  • Key considerations in perinatal palliative care
  • Full title: Perinatal Palliative Care: A guide to supporting families when a baby is at high risk of dying before or shortly after birth
  • Author(s): The PatchSA Training Team
  • Print ISBN: 978-1-928313-22-9
  • Reflowable ebook ISBN: 978-1-928313-22-9
  • PDF-ebook ISBN: 978-1-928313-22-9

About the authors

Dr Michelle Meiring is a Paediatrician with a special interest in Palliative Care and Chronic Pain Management. She is the Founding Director of Paedspal, an NGO that provides a paediatric palliative care service to public and private patients in Cape Town. Academically she convenes the Post-Graduate Diploma in Paediatric Palliative Medicine at UCT. An active advocate, Dr Meiring chairs PatchSA (the South African Children’s Palliative Care Network) and is engaged in policy-making nationally.

Sr. Tracy Rawlins is a qualified professional nurse, midwife and health educator. Her experience in caring for the terminally ill in her community laid the foundation for her qualification in adult palliative care but her heart and passion has always been in working with babies and children. In 2017 she successfully completed her post-grad diploma in Paediatric Palliative care medicine, cum laude. Her current role as the training co-ordinator for Patch has afforded her the opportunity to combine both her passion for facilitation and training and at the same time, assist in caring and supporting children with serious illnesses and families.

Dr Julia Ambler graduated from UCT with her MBChB in 1998. After her junior doctor years, she spent 6 years in Oxford, UK returning home in early 2008. Whilst in the UK she trained and worked as a general practitioner and a children’s hospice doctor at Helen and Douglas Houses in Oxford. Since returning to South Africa in 2008 Julia has focused on providing paediatric palliative care services in her home province of KwaZulu-Natal. She is currently deputy director and head of clinical services at Umduduzi – Hospice Care for Children. In her role, she consults in children’s palliative care and trains health professionals and medical students. She is a sessional lecturer in the Department of Paediatrics, Nelson Mandela Medical School, University of KwaZulu-Natal. She is also a workshop facilitator for the Medical Protection Society.

Sue Boucher is a qualified teacher, a published author, and has worked in the field of communication and training in children’s palliative care for 14 years. Leaving a 30-year career in education as a teacher, Head of Department and School Principal, she was appointed to the position of International Information Officer for the International Children’s Palliative Care Network (ICPCN) in December 2007. In this role she contributed to the development of their training curriculum, created their Training of Trainers course and was involved in educating healthcare professionals in children’s palliative care across Africa and internationally. She created and oversaw the development of the ICPCN Pain Assessment App for Children and left ICPCN in July 2019 as their Director of Communications. She has been a contributing author to several textbooks, books, papers and journal articles on children’s palliative care and presently holds the position of Programme and Communications Manager at PatchSA.


We acknowledge with gratitude the contribution of all those who have been involved in the development of this book, Perinatal Palliative Care: A guide to supporting families when a baby is at high risk of dying before or shortly after birth.

In particular, we would like to recognise Dr Julia Ambler for her invaluable assistance with the writing and reviewing of the chapters of the book as well as Dr. Michelle Meiring for the final contributions and edits. We also wish to thank Dr Khakhu T Mathivha, a medical specialist in neonatology, and Dr Shetil Nana, paediatrician, who took time from their busy schedules to test and review the book and the quizzes for us.

Perinatal Palliative Care: A guide to supporting families when a baby is at high risk of dying before or shortly after birth has been developed as a project of the PatchSA Training Team consisting of Dr Michelle Meiring, Mrs Tracy Rawlins, Dr Julia Ambler, Dr Jan du Plessis, Mrs Joan Marston, Ms Tracey Brand, Mrs Melissa Williams-Platt and Ms Sue Boucher. The members of this team possess a wealth of knowledge and experience in the field of palliative care for children.

A generous grant from the Discovery Fund enabled the development and publishing of this book.

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