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- » When a baby dies before labour begins
- » How you might feel
- » Talk to someone
- » Grief and children
- » Telling your family and friends
- » Memories and keepsakes
- » A ceremony for your baby
- » Deciding about a post mortem
- » Deciding about a funeral
- » Leaving hospital - going home
- » Taking your baby home
- » Postnatal check-up
- » Certificates and registration
- » Rights and benefits
- » Getting a copy of your medical notes
- » Mainly for fathers
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When a baby dies before labour begins
Finding out that your baby has died
“It couldn’t have been a greater distance to fall—from expecting that our baby was on her way and that this was going to be the happiest day of our life—to finding out that she had inexplicably died at full term in the previous 24 hours.” Mum
Finding out at any stage of pregnancy that your unborn baby has died, or is dying, is a devastating shock. We are so sorry that this has happened to you. We hope that the information here will help you at this very difficult time. It includes information that many parents in this situation have said that they needed to know.
It covers what is likely to happen in the next few days, and explains some of the decisions and choices you may be able to make.
Although we refer to a single baby, the information also applies to parents who were expecting twin babies or more, all of whom have died.
This information also applies to parents whose baby has died before 24 weeks of pregnancy. If this has happened to you, you may find that some hospital staff use the term late miscarriage rather than stillbirth. You may find this very upsetting and rightly feel that it underestimates the significance of what has happened. However, it is used because the legal requirements for registration and funerals for these babies are different.
The information here is not meant to replace the information and support that the staff who are caring for you will offer. Please ask them as many questions as you want to.
Even if you have suspected that there might be something wrong with your baby, knowing for certain that your baby has died is shattering. You may also have had the added stress and anxiety of having to wait before your baby’s death could be confirmed.
Even after your baby’s death has been confirmed, you may find it hard to accept what has happened. It is especially difficult if, as sometimes happens, the mother can still feel her baby move when she changes position. You may also find it hard to understand and remember what people are telling you. All these are quite normal responses.
“We had absolutely no suspicion that our baby had died. As far as we were aware I was starting early labour and babies are expected to move much less in labour. Despite the obvious (with the benefit of hindsight) looks of concern and sympathy on the faces of all the staff, I was very slow to realise that something terrible had happened.” Mum
If a mother is critically ill, please see When a mother is critically ill for more information.