Birth - When There's a Pregnancy Loss
It happens rarely, but when your baby dies, either before or just
after birth, you can be so upset or numb that you might not know
what to do next. It can be something of a comfort, if only a small
one, for parents to know that there are some established ways to
handle situations like this.
Sometimes babies die before birth, and parents have a little bit
of time to think about what they'll do when the baby is born. But
even if the baby dies shortly after birth, parents have the same
rituals and choices available to them.
Holding Your Baby
It may sound strange, but for most people, holding their baby is
helpful. It's a sad goodbye, but for most parents it's a valuable
memory as they go through the grieving process. Even if your baby
has a physical abnormality, holding and touching him or her is a
good idea. If you'd like other family members to hold the baby too,
that's also fine.
The hospital staff will typically encourage you to hold your child.
If they don't do so, feel free to let them know your wishes.
Naming Your Baby
Naming your child will help you think of your baby as a person.
If you had selected a name already, you may still want to use it
or choose another one. Whatever you decide is best.
Determining the Cause of Death
Your healthcare provider may ask your permission to have an
autopsy performed to determine why your baby died. If you'd like
this information in case you choose to become pregnant again, then
an autopsy is probably a good idea.
Having a Religious Ceremony
Let your religious and ethnic background guide you as you figure
out if you'd like to have some sort of funeral or memorial service
for your baby. Don't hesitate to ask for advice from a priest, minister
Sources: K Reynolds, C Lees, G McCartan, Pregnancy
and Birth: Your Questions Answered. DK Publishing, 1997; A Eisenberg,
What to Expect when You're Expecting, 1996.