The light of a distant star continues to reach the earth long after the star itself is gone.

Author Unknown

If your baby dies in hospital - saying goodbye

In all honesty this is a subject you will not read about in pregnancy books and not one for the agenda in the ante-natal classes. And if it were discussed its not something you would exactly want to know about at the time.

Giving birth is supposed to be a happy time with the reward of meeting your baby at the end. A baby dying in the process is something that isn't suppose to happen these days. And when it does its the sort of thing that happens to someone else. We never expect that life and death can collide in such a short span of time but sadly for 1 in every 140 births in Australia, this is a nightmare that becomes a reality. This figure would be even higher if it included babies who die soon after birth.

If you are reading this page either you or someone you know are most likely to be in the early stages of grief after losing a baby. Or your baby might be very ill and you have been given the prognosis that they will only live a short time.

In the case of stillbirth sometimes there is a warning that the baby has died in-utero and a woman has no choice but to go through and deliver her baby. There can be no harder feat in life than to go through the labour process without the reward of a crying baby at the end of it.

If you are in the situation of having to give birth knowing your baby has died the below information will be useful in helping you cope through this difficult time and create some special memories with your baby.

If your baby is terminally ill and you have been told they have a short time to live, this information will give you some ideas on how you can make the most of the remaining days with your baby. Regardless of what stage a baby is lost it is important to create memories that you can treasure forever. Even if you may not think so at the time, these memories can later be of great comfort to you. Spending time with your baby will give you the chance to get to know them and will help you accept the reality of the loss.

Many years ago it was common for women not to be given the opportunity to hold or even see their babies. Some women did not know where their baby was taken or whether they had a boy or a girl. Others believed it was cruel to give a mother her deceased baby to hold. Fortunately these days it is widely acknowledged that spending time with your baby is an important part of the healing process. This is still an individual choice and it is up to you to do what feels right. Even if you may not wish to see your baby, it is okay to change your mind if you wish to see them days later.

When someone in our lives dies we have memories to reflect on about that person. When a baby dies the only way to do this is to create memories. These memories will be with you forever and will be something you can treasure in the years to come. Sadly you only get one chance at this.

Losing a baby is a very vulnerable and shocking time. Ultimately you need to do what feels right for you - there is no right or wrong and you need to be comfortable with what you are doing, not what others expect you to do.

The below recommendations have been compiled from personal experience, various grief literature and from other bereaved parents and has been re-written here.

Spend time with your baby

Mementos & keepsakes

Your rights

During such a time you are likely to feel numb and not be aware of some things that you can do.

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