Stillbirth is one of the most devastating of losses, affecting over 25,000 families each year.
Stillbirth touches families of all races, religion and socio-economic status. For many parents stillbirth is a loss
that hits unexpectedly. In fact, up to half of all stillbirths occur in pregnancies that had seemed
With any loss, grief can come in many different ways. The initial shock and numbness will
eventually fade to other very intense emotions. The grieving process is different for everyone, with the one common
thread being pain. Allowing yourself and others to experience this in individual ways can be vital to eventual
What should I do if my baby has died?
As you are trying to cope with the heartbreaking news, you will also have to face an
uncomfortable dilemma. If your baby has died before labor begins you will probably be given the choice of what type
of birth you would prefer; this is not an easy decision to make. Giving birth naturally may give you a little more
time to work through the shock and begin the grieving process. Generally, it is medically safe for the mother to
continue carrying her baby until labor begins which is normally about 2 weeks after the baby has died. This lapse
in time can have an affect on the baby’s appearance at delivery and it is best to be prepared for this.
Some women prefer to be induced as soon as possible because it is emotionally difficult for some
women to think of carrying their deceased baby in the womb. If labor has not started after two weeks, induction
would become necessary to avoid dangerous blood clotting. A cesarean is usually only recommended if complications
arise during labor and delivery.
How will I recover physically after having a
After you give birth to a stillborn baby, your body needs time to heal as it would in any
birthing situation. Your doctor will probably recommend taking it easy, to give your body time to heal. A few days
after you get home from the hospital, your breasts may fill with milk. The milk will normally disperse within a few
days but your breasts may feel sore and tender for awhile. This experience can be upsetting because it is reminder
of your loss. Try taking a warm bath to ease the discomfort. You may continue to bleed off and on for a few weeks.
If you continue to bleed beyond three weeks, have a fever, or cramping, it is important to contact your healthcare
Saying hello, goodbye, and making memories:
After the tests are completed, you will usually have the choice to spend time alone with your
baby. You can find comfort in looking at, touching, and talking to your baby. Most parents find it helpful to make
memories of this precious time that will last a lifetime. Here are a few ways you can make memories with your
You can give your baby a bath and dress them in a special outfit. Before leaving the hospital you can
take the booty or hat to have as a keepsake.
You can take pictures of your baby.
The hospital staff can give you handprints and or footprints.
You may want to take a lock of your baby’s hair.
It may seem odd at first but you can read a story or sing a lullaby to your baby.
If you would like, the nurse can record your baby’s measurements.
You probably have also named your baby by now. Be sure to tell the hospital staff as soon as possible
so all documents can have your baby’s name listed.
You can have your baby christened or blessed while in the hospital.
A baptism certificate will also be given to you to keep.
You will be able to spend as much time as you need with your baby, but at some point you will
need to say goodbye. This will probably be one of the most challenging things to do because it is so final. Allow
yourself to cry; expressing emotion is natural in the grieving process. Having the keepsakes will remind you that a
part of your baby will always be with you.
What can I expect when I leave the hospital?
You normally will be allowed to leave the hospital when you are physically ready. Leaving the
hospital may be filled with a mix of emotions. You may be feeling ready to get to the safety and security of your
own home, but at the same time dealing with the anger and sadness of not having a baby to take home with you.
Having supportive family around can help you get through this. Some parents have found it helpful to have a family
member move all the baby items into a spare room before they get home so that these can be gone through at a time
when the parents feel ready.