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
- Seeing and holding your baby helps to affirm your child’s life and gives you lasting memories.
- Naming your baby is a way to honor your baby’s uniqueness and it can help later when you think and talk about your child. It’s never too late to name your baby.
- Photographs of your baby, which can be taken by Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, a lock of hair, footprints, a birth and/or death certificate, and other items provide memories of your child that your family can treasure forever. Click here for Memorial Photography and Keepsakes.
- Baptizing or blessing your baby may be comforting.
- After delivery you may want to stay on the maternity unit, or if you find it difficult, you may ask to be moved to another area of the hospital.
- Engorgement and milk in the breasts can be a painful physical reminder for a mother that she has no baby to nurse. Your healthcare providers can help you with this. Click here for Lactation After Loss brochure.
- You may be asked to sign a birth and/or death certificate, and to make decisions about the handling of your baby’s body.
- An autopsy may be helpful to understand the cause of your baby’s death.
- You may choose to plan a memorial service or you may decide not to.
- Your healthcare providers can be a source of information about your loss.
As Time Passes: Helpful Suggestions
- Be kind to yourself. Allow yourself to feel whatever you feel. There is no correct or incorrect way to grieve.
- Give yourself a break. If possible, put responsibilities and expectations on hold until you have more energy.
- Take as much time as you need to decide what to do with your baby’s things.
- A memorial service, a religious ceremony, or planting a tree or rose garden can be helpful at any time.
- Stay in touch with those friends and family who understand your loss.
- It’s okay to avoid people and events, like baby showers and children’s birthday parties, until you feel up to it.
- Take good care of yourself with nutrition, rest, time in nature, physical activity, and anything that comforts you moment to moment.
- Get all the support you need through support groups, online communities, spiritual care and/or grief counseling.
- Tell your story and express your feelings. Allow yourself to cry.
- Try to avoid major decisions and big changes.
- Parents who are anxious about subsequent pregnancy may need extra emotional support.
- Get as much information as you can about your loss from your health care providers.
- 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.
- Participate in a support group for pregnancy loss and infant death. Click here for HAND of the Bay Area support group meetings in San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Cruz and San Rafael.
- Click to download Bay Area Pregnancy Loss & Infant Death Support Groups.
- Click here for information on obtaining Certified Copies of Fetal Death & Still Birth Records from the California Department of Public Health.
- Click to download HAND’s Helpful Websites.
- Grieving over the loss of a baby, before or after birth, can be as intense as grief over the death of any other family member.
- All parents must feel free to express their love for the baby they have lost and to grieve in their own way.
- Seeing pregnant women and babies is often painful after the loss of a baby.
- Fathers need opportunities to express their grief in their own way.
- Family members and friends often find it hard to talk about the baby, and inappropriate remarks may cause further grief.
- 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.
- Anniversaries of the baby’s birth and death can bring back parents’ feelings of grief and loss.