If Your Baby Should Sadly Die
In the UK about 4,000 babies every year are stillborn – the baby is already dead when it is born. About the same number die soon after birth. Often the causes of these deaths are not known.
The death of a baby is devastating to parents and their families. You and your partner may find it comforting to see and hold your baby and give your baby a name. You may also like to have a photograph of your baby and hand and footprints, and to keep some mementos, such as a lock of hair or the shawl the baby was wrapped in. All this can help you and your family to remember your baby as a real person and may, in time help in coming to terms with your loss.
At the Women's Centre we have a specially designed suite in which you and your family can spend time with your baby and prepare for your return home. You will be put in touch with one of our specialist bereavement midwives who will help you to find the best way for you and your partner to cope with your loss.
One of the first questions you are likely to ask is why your baby died. The doctors and midwives may not know. A post-mortem will be offered, and this may help you to find out, although it doesn’t always provide the answer. We will offer you an appointment with a consultant who will explain the results of any investigations that have been carried out and answer any questions you may have.
It may also help to talk about your feelings with other parents who have lost a baby in a similar way. SANDS (the Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society) has a Gloucestershire branch, run by our midwives, and can offer you support and put you in touch with other parents who can offer friendly help. See http://www.gloucestershiresands.org.uk/ for more information.
You may wish to arrange a cremation or burial service for your baby. Babies who are stillborn (after 24 weeks) or die after birth will need to be registered at a Registrars Office. Before you leave hospital you will be given a certificate to take with you when you register your baby's death. Talk to your midwife or doctor about what you want to do and to find out what arrangements are available locally. You could also consult the hospital chaplain or rabbi or your own religious adviser.
Saying goodbye to your baby
A funeral or other way of saying goodbye may be an important part of acknowledging the death of your baby however early in the pregnancy it occured. If your baby dies before 24 weeks our hospital will provide a commemerative certificate. In law these babies do not have to be registered. The hospital will provide a communal cremation (with other babies) you will not be able to attend this service. You can arrange your own private burial or creamtion service. Just speak to our midwives who will be able to help you, whatever your wishes are.