If you’ve experienced the loss of your baby before, during, or after birth, we offer helpful information and suggestions that come out of our own experiences.
First Days: What to Expect
After delivery, some mothers find it intolerable to be in the maternity unit, while some want to be with other mothers.
Seeing and holding your baby can help confirm the reality of the loss and dispel frightening fantasies.
Baptizing a baby may be comforting to many parents.
Parents may be required to sign a birth and/or death certificate.
An autopsy is often helpful to alleviate a parent’s feeling that they may have done something wrong.
Some parents want to plan the funeral, memorial or burial service, while others would rather leave the preparations to others. HAND can offer assistance in this area, if needed.
Some parents prefer to have others decide what to do with their baby’s things; many would rather decide for themselves.
Engorgement and milk in the breasts can be a painful physical reminder for a mother that she has no baby to nurse.
[Hyperlink “Engorgment” to the “Lactation After Loss” PDF file]
As Time Passes: Helpful Suggestions
Be kind to yourself. Give yourself permission to feel what you feel. Feelings are not right or wrong, they just exist. You may have emotional, physical, and sexual reactions that are new to you.
Naming your baby is a way to acknowledge your baby’s uniqueness, and can help later when you think and talk about your child. It is never too late to name your baby.
Stay in contact with those friends and relatives who understand your loss.
A photograph of your baby, a lock of hair, footprints, a birth and/or death certificate and other mementos can be prized possessions.
[Hyperlink “photograph” to the “Photo Retouching and Artist’s Sketches” PDF file]
A commemorative service, a religious ceremony, planting a tree or rose garden can be helpful and appropriate at any time.
Learn as much as you can about miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal death from your healthcare providers and from books and other materials addressing emotional, physical and sexual reactions. HAND offers resource suggestions for materials on both general and specialized topics.
Get as much information as you can about your loss from your health care providers.
Participate in a pregnancy loss support group.
Grieving parents may feel a sense of emptiness for weeks or months after the delivery or loss.
Grief about losing a baby through miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, stillbirth or other reasons can be as intense as the death of any other family member.
All parents must feel free to express their love for the baby they have lost.
Fathers need opportunities to express their grief in their own way.
Parents often need help in talking with their other children about the baby’s death.
Grandparents often grieve for their grandchild, and may find it difficult to deal with their own child’s pain.
Family members and friends often find it hard to talk about the baby, and inappropriate remarks may cause further grief.
Seeing pregnant women and babies is often painful for months after the loss of a baby.
Anniversaries of the baby’s birth and death can bring back parents’ feelings of grief and loss.
Anxiety about a subsequent pregnancy can require extra emotional support. Parents may feel strongly attached to or overanxious about their next-born children.