The NPA on Family-Centered Perinatal Care

Article excerpt

The National Perinatal Association (NPA) is a multi-disciplinary organization concerned with developing and providing the best perinatal care possible. We recognize the unique roles played by each discipline and family member in achieving this goal.

NPA supports the development of family-centered policies and practices for antepartum, neonatal and postnatal care. These are perinatal services that recognize and cultivate the strengths of families while respecting their concerns, attitudes, values and ethics. We believe that perinatal outcomes are improved by addressing all aspects of perinatal health, including the medical, emotional and psychosocial needs of families and their babies. This holistic approach demands services administered in both a family-centered and a multidisciplinary fashion. This model of care recognizes that the efforts of health care providers support the work of families and communities who contribute the primary resources, support and dedication to their children. Families and health care providers form full partnerships for developing, implementing and evaluating perinatal health services.

Essential components of family-centered perinatal care include:

* The development of mutual respect and trust between families and health care providers.

* The honest sharing of information between families and health care providers, and the recognition that family-identified concerns deserve as much attention as those identified by health care providers.

* Collaboration between families and health care providers for informed decision-making that accepts the family's unique ability to recognize and anticipate proper courses of action for their individual priorities.

* The recognition of the diversity that exists among both families and health care providers, including differences in racial, ethnic, religious, economic, educational and geographic backgrounds.

* Developing opportunities for access to family-to-family support within the perinatal system.

* An understanding that families provide the consistency of care beyond the perinatal period, and that the perinatal system has the obligation to support the family in developing the confidence and competence necessary for this responsibility.

Although it has become popular to label current perinatal services "family-centered," most services miss the mark, continuing practices that are not family-friendly, such as:

* Continued focus on medical aspects to the exclusion of the broader spectrum of family needs. …