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Women's Health

Mercy Women's Care at St. Anne
3404 W. Sylvania Avenue
Toledo, OH 43623

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Birth - When There's a Pregnancy Loss

separator 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 or rabbi.

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.
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