Making the Most of Your Time Together After a Stillbirth or Neonatal Death
Spending time with your baby after death is a very personal, individual choice and, whatever you choose, it is important to do only what is right for you. Spending time together may give you the opportunity to express your feelings for your baby and help you understand the reality of your baby’s death. However, you may choose not to do this.
Usually when family members or close friends die there are many memories of time spent together, which serve as a comfort for those who grieve for them. When you lose a baby there are often very few memories of time together. You may wish to spend time with your baby to create these memories, naming him or her and doing for your baby some of the things you may have done in life.
It’s alright to be unsure
You may be anxious about how your baby will look after death. You may feel scared and worried about seeing, touching and holding your baby. You may be concerned about any medical condition or abnormality your baby may have or the presence of incisions from a surgical procedure. Many parents experience these fears when their baby dies.
It can be helpful for health professionals to describe your baby’s appearance to you. They may also be able to provide a photograph of the baby. Sometimes you may feel unable to see your baby at a particular time, but may wish to do so hours or days later.
“The utter sense of powerlessness that I felt while holding my beautiful little son and watching him die was crushing.”
This article was prepared using extracts from Stillbirth and Neonatal death1. The full text is available online or contact Red Nose Grief and Loss Services on 1300 308 307 for a printed version.
Last reviewed: 11/6/23
1. Ford, D., Richardson, R., Robertson, S-E., Stammers, R., Oxlade, E., Carter, J. & SIDS and Kids. (2016). Stillbirth and Neonatal death: A Booklet By and for Parents whose Baby is Stillborn or Dies soon after Birth. Malvern, Vic.: SIDS and Kids. (Original work published 2004 entitled Treasured Babies).