Life-Limiting Diagnosis

When parents learn that their unborn child has fetal anomalies or genetic disorders that are incompatible with life (previously called fatal fetal diagnosis), or the birthing person's life is in danger the decisions they are faced with are some of the hardest decisions they will ever have to make. Often these decisions involve choosing between carrying to term or compassionately  interrupting the pregnancy (also called termination for medical reasons).  We will support whichever decision you choose.

Making the time together with your baby count

The short time spent together saying hello, and goodbye, is something that families will look back on and cherish forever. Making the most of this time is one of the most important things we can do to help parents begin to process their grief.  Parents naturally want to nurture, protect, and socialize their baby, and we encourage parents to take all the time they need to do just that. We present opportunities to make memories and care for the newborn in a way grieving parents may not have thought of or thought possible. Most people have a lifetime to make memories, these families have hours or just a few days. The gift of time has been given in this situation to thoughtfully plan the baby’s funeral and make it meaningful and personalized. Instead of a baby shower, a blessingway can be arranged that celebrates the life of the birthing person and baby.

Caring Bridge is a website where you can create your own unique webpage to keep family and friends updated with your baby's journey.

For those who have received a life-limiting diagnosis for their baby, we are pleased to be able to offer a free 4D ultrasound so parents and their families can see the baby in real time. Watching the baby move can help families bond. If baby has any birth defects, this can also be a time to prepare for what baby may look like, which can help relieve some of the fear of the unknown.

Please click here to request information about scheduling a 4D ultrasound.

 

"You gave me a forever within the numbered days..."

– John Green

What else can a bereavement doula
help with?


Doulas journal the birth story because the details of labor and birth can get lost in the emotional trauma of the situation. They can also help gently guide parents to:

Journal about the pregnancy

Recording an experience such as the loss of a child tells a story within someone’s lifetime. This story is the legacy the child leaves. As memories change, the ritual of reading the “story” helps shape understanding and capture the meaning of this event.

"In the latest work on grief, story is taking a central place in how we recover. The old way of thinking about grief was that we need to disengage our emotions from the relationship that held a person to us, that defined the bond. The new way of thinking is that we need to remold the stories that connected our hearts, so we can weave them into the shifting and changing nature of who we are becoming. In fact, telling the story of the person who died and our relationship to them over and over again is now seen as the way we rebuild the notion of who we are, acknowledge that relationships with deceased people still grow and help us define ourselves. This is the opposite of disengaging."  -Henry Fersko-Weiss, 2018

Make physical contact

Some mothers like skin-to-skin after delivery, others prefer their baby to be bathed and dressed before they meet them. There is no right or wrong way. The parents’ decisions are honored.

Grandmothers bathing stillborn babyBathe and dress baby

We can assist parents, or other family members in bathing and dressing baby. We like to use scented oil to clean the baby because it is gentler and parents can keep some of the oil to remember what their baby smelled like.

Take photos

Initially, the suggestion of photos is met with surprise. These turn out to be some of the parents' most valued mementos. You only have one chance to take them. You may not want to look at them right away, but they will exist for the future to serve as proof of this child’s existence and a memory of the time this family had together.

A picture:

  • Shows parents exactly how the baby looked so they do not have to rely on memory.
  • Gives parents a way to share their baby with others.
  • Comforts parents who do not want to forget and fear they can’t or won’t remember.

We can put these into a photo book to create this baby’s story and have photos retouched if necessary. The content of the photos is discussed before they are taken.

Designate special songs/story books

Songs can be played while baby is bathed and rocked. It’s also nice for parents to have some quiet time together reading a storybook to their baby. We can provide suggestions for songs or books.

Make mementos

We have beaded name bracelets, footprint/handprint cast kits, photo props that can become mementos and supplies for family handprint artwork.

Castings

Socialize their baby

Remind parents that they may want to introduce their baby to their family members, therefore weaving their baby into their family's history.

Prepare for breast changes

How to alleviate breast discomfort or discuss options for milk donation.

Think about the days ahead

Doulas sensitively encourage discussion of interment of the baby’s body, cremation, memorial services, and traditional or home funerals. Through guided participation, we help anticipate how to handle triggering scenarios and what life will look like after this life-changing event.  For more information, click here.

Get in touch with us today to learn how we can support you or a loved one during perinatal loss or to offer support.

He was footprints in the snow.
Not all loves are meant to last.
Some are meant to grace you briefly,
before fading,
somehow leaving the impression
that the world is just a little bit better
because you had been touched by
something so beautiful it was impossible
to grasp.

– Jacqueline Simon Gunn