Document Type


Publication Date



DOI: 10.3389/fped.2020.00556; PMCID: PMC7505922


Purpose of Review: A significant number of pregnancies are complicated by a fetus with a life-limiting diagnosis. As diagnoses are made earlier in the pregnancy, families experience anticipatory grief and are faced with navigating goals of care for a baby that has yet to be born. With the support of the care team, families can begin to grieve, plan, and make meaningful memories during the duration of the pregnancy, the birth of their baby, and life of the child. Creating a palliative care birth plan, which expands beyond the traditional concept for delivery planning to include prenatal, perinatal, and neonatal care has become an important method for parents to process the diagnosis, for parents to document their wishes, and for members of the care team to communicate with the goal of supporting and enhancing the experience of the family. This articles reviews recent and relevant literature on the importance of birth planning and the role of perinatal palliative care when a life-limiting fetal diagnosis is made.

Recent Findings: The process of birth planning is an important component of perinatal palliative care. Through this process, families can express their fears, values, hopes, and wishes. It also offers an opportunity for providers to communicate these wishes for the remainder of the pregnancy, the delivery, birth, and time afterwards. This has been demonstrated to decrease maternal stress and promote family centered care.

Summary: Perinatal birth planning is an important component of perinatal palliative care when a fetus has a life-limiting diagnosis. The process of birth planning can be supportive and therapeutic as well as an important communication tool. With multiple practices and designs of perinatal palliative care programs, there are no standard tools even though important components have been identified. Ultimately, the strategies outlined here can be used as advance care planning tools.

Journal Title

Front Pediatr



First Page


Last Page



advance care planning; birth plan; life-limiting diagnosis; neonatal; perinatal palliative care


This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

Publisher's Link: