Before Leaving Your Baby's Body
The hardest page to write.
This will forever be the hardest page to write and update on this website. It brings back the most wonderful moments when we were with our baby's body, memorizing every part of them and loving each precious moment, but it is also wrapped up in trauma, shock, disbelief, and the agonizing realization that this will likely be the longest period of time you will have with your baby in their physical form.
Before you give birth or leave your baby's body, here is a list of activities, memories makers, care items, and questions you might want to consider. If you weren't able to do some of these activities with your baby, imagine doing them walking through each step. This meditative experience can be very soothing and healing.
With Nathaniel, we had no idea what to do. We were lucky to have some well-trained NICU nurses and special nighttime volunteer elves. But really, how do you squeeze a lifetime of moments and love into a few hours or days? Once discharged, we left with a bag of memories and no baby. Those memories are now all we have of Nathaniel, and I cherish each one.
Questions to Consider
Depending on when you find this page or the circumstances around your baby's birth/death some of these questions may be applicable.
Do you want a stillbirth/bereavement doula?
Do you have a birth plan that you are comfortable with?
What should we expect for birth? If my child is born alive, how long should we expect them to live earthside?
Is your baby expected at any point to be alive after birth? If so, can you have a pediatric palliative care consult prior to that? What pain medication options are available to help ease and provide comfort to your baby?
Does your hospital have a bereavement room? Can you look at it before deciding? If no bereavement room, can you have a post-partum room away from other families with earthside children?
Will I be eligible for a birth or death certificate? This is often state dependent.
Do you want an autopsy to be performed? How long does it take for results to come back (this may be important when planning burial/funeral/memorial plans)?
Do you want family or special friends to meet your baby? If so, will the hospital let you? How many, and when?
What items would you like to have for your baby? Blanket, outfit, socks, hat, stuffed animal.
Does the hospital have a CuddleCot OR a Caring Cradle? Can your hospital help to facilitate a saline bath instead? See the activities below for more information.
Do you want a special photographer to help take photos? If so, consider contacting, NowILayMeDownToSleep.com (a free volunteer service). Is there any special protocol to get them into the hospital?
How long with the hospital allow you to stay with your baby?
Are there any important religious or spiritual considerations you would like for your baby? Do you want your baby blessed, baptized, or circumcised (if applicable)?
What activities do you want to do with your baby? See a list of potential suggestions below.
Who will bring your baby to the morgue? What does this process look like?
Do you want to do an autopsy?
Can they send the placenta to pathology for testing?
Can you talk with a hospital social worker who can help to arrange certain aspects of care? Perinatal counseling? Call different funeral homes? Help you gather information?
Memory Making Activities
There will never be a comprehensive list because no amount of time will ever suffice.
Take photos - TONS of photos, of literally every single part of your baby. (One of my favorite photos of Nathaniel is him naked.)
Take photos of you holding your baby, your partner, any family.
Make sure to have a family photo.
Take videos. So so many videos. Videos of just your baby, of you, holding your baby, of others holding your baby.
Hold your baby - do skin to skin
Kiss your baby (all over).
Smell your baby.
Touch your baby. Count their fingers and toes. Feel their skin.
Sing a lullaby to your baby.
Read books to your baby.
Play music for your baby.
Talk to your baby.
Bathe your baby.
Comb your baby's hair (if possible).
Put a diaper on your baby (if possible)
Wrap your baby in a special blanket
Dress and undress your baby.
Read letters from loved ones to your baby.
Facetime with family so they can meet your baby. (If they cannot or you do not want them to come in-person)
Just be with your baby. Hold them close, in whatever way is possible. For early losses, you can keep the sac, placenta, and fetus.
Sleep with your baby - ask for the hospital to make a saline bath to hold your baby to help preserve their body CaringCradle or CuddleCot
Memory Making Items
Here is a list of potential items to help you hold only memories of your time with your baby. Depending on when your loss occurs some suggestions might not be feasible.
Clothing (outfit, any hats worn)
Blankets worn or touched
Footprints and handprints
Clippings of hair
Clippings of nails
ID bracelet (your baby's and your own)
Any medical items that might be discarded, like BP cuff, or intubation tube (cleaned)
Any name plaque or name banner
All paperwork noting weight, time of birth
Any blessings, poems, readings, books read/said to baby
All photos and videos taken with baby - consider having physically printed and make an album
Keep baby used any bottles or pacifiers
We have put all of these items into a waterproof container with the hopes of one day having a wooden chest created to hold all of the items we have from our time with his body.
Organizations to Help Make Memories Before You Leave Your Baby's Body
We know the unfortunate time constraints placed on families anticipating a limited life or experiencing a loss and understand the urgency to make as many memories as possible in that short time. Boxes include a baby blanket, a candleholder to light at special times, a book to read the baby, a kit for hand or foot molds, a keepsake with baby’s prints, and special stuffies (one to keep and one to leave with the baby). Boxes are free and easy to request.
NILMDTS gifts bereaved parents with an intimate portrait session that they cannot create for themselves. Our photographers will deliver heirloom images in black and white to preserve a timeless look that will last for generations. If you do not want a photographer, NILMDTS also has free photo retouching services.
Made specifically for the hospital environment, the Caring Cradle is designed to serve mothers and nurses.
There are times we hear comments from people who do not understand what we do. Parents need more time with their baby - the Caring Cradle provides that extra time, slowly the natural processes that occur after death. You can reserve yours on the website today.
*Ask your hospital if they one available* Providing grieving families time through the use of the CuddleCot is internationally encouraged by midwives, bereavement practitioners and academics. Time allows the family to form an important bond with their baby and helps them in dealing with their loss. Cooling the baby is absolutely essential. This is where the CuddleCot comes in. The CuddleCot cools to an ideal temperature for preserving baby without being too cold for the parents.
In use in thousands of hospitals across the world, the CuddleCot allows the family to spend precious time with their baby.
Stillbirthday Birth & Bereavement Doulas® (SBD) provide support prior to, during and after birth in any trimester. SBD doulas are both birth doulas, and bereavement doulas.
The SBD doula is uniquely qualified to provide support in situations of fatal diagnosis, carrying to term, and NICU care. SBD doulas are equally prepared to provide comprehensive support in live birth outcomes, including subsequent “rainbow” pregnancies, and can serve as a labor support in all birth situations.
Stillbirthday has a number of options to provide you with support prior to, during or just after the birth of your miscarried, stillborn, or subsequent baby.
Find doulas and photographers who have chosen to list with stillbirthday (SBD trained doulas are in this list as well)
View our list of professionally trained SBD doulas
See our support oprtions for prior to birth
See our support options for during birth
See our support options for immediately after birth
Miscarriage is, sadly, an all-too-common event – about one in every four pregnancies ends this way. Another one in 100 pregnancies is ectopic – that is when the pregnancy starts developing in the wrong place, usually in one of the fallopian tubes. A further one in 600 pregnancies is diagnosed as a molar (or hydatidiform mole) pregnancy – something very few people have even heard of. This UK based website walks through what to expect, current research on why, and different treatment option.