Stillbirths usually occur during before labor begins, although they can still occur during the labor and delivery process. Your active kicking growing baby may suddenly become still, and this may cause you to fear.
An ultrasound confirms stillbirth. Ultrasound confirms the absence of a fetal heartbeat. This ultrasound scan can tell your doctor the cause of your baby’s death. Your doctor may also order that a blood test be carried out to confirm the cause.
What do hospitals do with stillborn babies?
It all depends on the parents. Some can choose to take the baby home and plan a funeral, and some can allow the hospital to arrange the funeral. Legally, the baby should be cremated or buried if the baby is stillborn at twenty-four weeks or more.
What Happens Following The Stillbirth?
Even though thinking about administrative tasks that cone after a stillbirth is hard, there is some paperwork that the parents need to attend to, because registering a stillborn baby is a legal duty. You won’t be rushed into doing it. You will be given a few weeks to sort everything, and the hospital staff will help you through it.
Finding The Cause Of The Stillbirth
Tests will be carried out to find out what causedthe stillbirth is. This is not compulsory, but the test results may help to avoid problems when you are trying to get pregnant in the future.
The tests that will be carried out include:
- Blood test: Blood tests can show if the mother of the baby has diabetes, pre-eclampsia, and obstetric cholestasis.
- The membranes, umbilical cord, and placenta will be examined by specialists
- Tests to check if there is an infection; a sample of blood, urine or cells from the cervix or vagina will be tested
- thyroid function test – this test is carried out to check whether the mother has a health condition that affects the thyroid gland
- genetic tests – this test is usually done on a small sample of the umbilical cord, to check whether your baby had medical issues such as Down’s syndrome
More tests can also be carried on the stillborn to try to determine the cause of the death or if there are any health conditions that might have caused the death. This is referred to as post-mortem.
Saying Goodbye After The Stillbirth
After the post-delivery testing, you are free to spend personal time with your baby. You can choose to do what you want with your baby; dress the baby, take a photograph, sing to your baby, or tell her stories. Some parents even have their baby baptized or have her handprints, footprints, and measurement taken by the hospital staff.
The hospital will allow you to spend time with your baby. Studies have revealed that doing this can help you get through the grieving time. If you feel scared, unsure, or upset about seeing and spending time your child, the hospital healthcare team will see you through and answer all the questions you ask before you make any decision concerning your baby.
You will find out the fear of seeing the baby go once you set eyes on your baby and spend time with them. Some parents feel so much love for their baby when they spend time with them.
Your midwife will be there to help you if you want to spend some days with your baby or go home with them for a while.
Will The Hospital Let Us Arrange A Funeral For Our Baby?
Since suffering the loss of your child, you may face taking one difficult decision after another. Among these painful decisions will be whatarrangements you should make concerning your baby’s funeral will probably be the most difficult. Take all the time you want. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself about what to do.
Once you have registered your baby, you will be given a certificate for burial or cremation. Legally, a baby should be cremated or buried if the baby is stillborn at 24 weeks or after. Most hospitals offer to arrange a funeral for the baby.
You don’t have to make funeral plans immediately if you don’t want to. The hospital will keep your baby’s body safely until you have made the arrangements you are planning to make. If there are some religions that require you to arrange a private funeral, you can talk to the registrar.
Although the hospital may ask for a small donation, hospitals do not usually charge for the funeral of a baby. If your decision is to organize private funeral, the person in charge – the funeral director will let you know the cost involved.
Whatever way you choose to bury your baby is up to you. You can choose to hold a service before the burial or cremation is up to you. You can say goodbye, whichever you wish. You may find it relieving to let the hospital take care of the arrangements.
You can also decide to organize a funeral ceremony that is personal to you and your family.
Are The Parents Of The Baby Entitled To Any Benefits?
Claiming your entitlement as a parent may be very difficult when you are left with no baby to care for. However, you have rights to your entitlement, and getting it may provide some help at this time. You can enlist a member of your family or any of your friends to help with the paperwork or make enquiries.
As the mother of the baby, you will be entitled to all maternity rights and benefits. These include free prescriptions and maternity leave for employed mothers. You do not need to feel pressured to go back to work immediately because both parents are entitled to their rights, which includes paternity rights.
Do Parents Of The Baby Need Any Documents?
Obtaining a copy of your maternity notes might be a great idea. You should also obtain your baby’s hospital certificate of birth. These documents may be needed for remembering and formally acknowledging your baby. You will pay a small amount to get these documents.
If there is anything that confuses you about the maternity notes, you can ask a member of the staff to explain everything to you.
When Can The Baby Be Buried?
You do not have to hurry to arrange the funeral as there is no specific time to do this. Most funerals for stillborn happen within 2-3 weeks. Take your time to make your decision on what you want to do. The hospital will keep your baby safe in the mortuary or the funeral home until you are ready.
You do not have to feel pressured about this. Also, keep in mind that the hospital might want to know if you would want them to organize the baby’s funeral before you leave the hospital. The staff will let you know the right person to contact if you haven’t yet decided what to do at this point.
You are required to get the certificate of registration of stillbirth from the local registrar. Also, while you are getting the certificate, you will need to fill a form to permit cremation or burial, which you will send to the hospital or funeral director, depending on whom you would like to make the arrangements for you.
The funeral director or hospital can help you with this and also help with any other forms. Also, If you decide to organize a separate funeral, you will need to give the crematorium staff or the cemetery the same form.
Can Parents Take Their Baby Home Before The Funeral?
If you are wondering if you can take the baby home before the funeral, then you should know that some parents are allowed to do that. This can only be hindered if a post-mortem has been ordered by a procurator fiscal or a coroner. The post-mortem order is legal.
Some hospitals and mortuaries allow the parents to borrow cold cots that they can use to keep their baby cool at home.
Getting Pregnant After The Stillbirth
Your body will begin to change and get back to normal in the days and weeks following the stillbirth. You may experience body changes in the short term. These changes include bleeding from your vagina and sore breasts. If you begin toexperience issues such asheavy bleeding that doesn’t stop, breast swelling and a warmth sensation in the breast, and fever, it is essential to call your doctor’s attention.
Following the birth, you may start thinking about trying to get pregnant again. This feeling is normal, and it does not mean that you have forgotten or moved on from your baby. Your decision to get pregnant again can be a difficult one, and how you choose to approach it is personal to you.
If you feel you are ready to have another baby, make sure you talk to your doctor and have you checked to make sure that your body is ready to carry another baby.