Miscarriage and Rights

What are your rights during a miscarriage?  Some find out after the fact, when it is too late.  This is an informative article called Your Rights During Miscarriage published by Elizabeth Ministry International.  Although it is in the context of having a miscarriage in the US, many of the points still apply.

Related to this topic is the Letter to Parents before leaving the hospital and Tips for Healthcare Professionals that I wrote when I suffered the loss of my firstborn son.



Healthcare Professionals That Care

On the day we lost our son, we were very fortunate to be taken care of by a number of professionals such as our Doula, Doctors, Nurses and a Social Worker.  Our GP even drove to the hospital after a full day of seeing patients at the clinic to see us.  The Manager had assigned a Nurse to my husband and I which was a huge blessing because she exactly what we were going through.  This Nurse took care to answer all of our questions and eventually shared with us that she herself had lost a baby.  It struck me at that time, that infant death isn’t all that rare after all.

What can Nurses, Social Workers, Doctors, Doulas and Midwives do to help parents who have just lost an infant?  From our own experience and from speaking to other parents, there are are some key things that healthcare providers can do to help facilitating how the parents will eventually say “goodbye” and these rituals can make all the difference.  Even if the parents are somewhat in shock, the healing process can begin to happen soon after hearing that their baby has died.

There is an innate desire to love and take care of your baby.  Not everyone will react the same to the news that their child is gone, however, newly bereaved parents time and time again have expressed that they need some kind of guidance at the hospital.  Read about the bonding activities that parents can do with their child before it is too late in Tips for Healthcare Professionals.

Wish I Had Known

A couple of things I want to share with healthcare professionals at birthing and NICU units are the letter to parents and an accompanying letter to caregivers. These letters provide tips on how to guide grieving families through the difficult process of having to say “goodbye” to a child.

My goal is for the letter to parents to be given to families at the hospital after being told that their little one has died — before it is too late. This letter outlines what parents can do to bond with their baby within 12 hours of receiving the news. From my experience, and from what other parents have shared, some of these rituals may significantly impact their journey of grief and healing. Families may rely on caregivers such as nurses, doctors, midwives, doulas and social workers for clear direction.

After pouring over books and reading ways that parents could have spent more time with their children before saying their final “goodbyes”, I was prompted to write something that could be passed on to families right away. To be honest, there are things we wish we had done with our son that we never got a chance to.

After hearing that other parents also had regrets and cringing when I heard comments like “I didn’t know I could have had a volunteer photographer take pictures” or “I wish I had known that I could have bathed my baby myself…”, this prompted me to create the letters so that parents could become aware of ways they could spend time with their infants.

About nine months ago, a close friend of mine called and I sensed panic in her voice. Her friend **Nicole was in the hospital and just delivered her full-term daughter who was born still. “What should I do, what can I tell her?” my friend asked. I knew I still had time and rushed home to email the letter to parents before the family left the birthing unit.

Nicole contacted me a few weeks later thanking me for the information and suggestions. This newly bereaved mother wasn’t sure at the time if she wanted photos, but 8 months later she proudly showed me the scrapbook featuring her beautiful daughter’s pictures. “Thank you” she said with sincere gratitude, “I look at the photos of her often, and it helps a lot”.

I’m working on getting this letter out to birthing unit staff, doulas, midwives and social workers. If there is anyone you know who might wish to have this letter via email, feel free to have them contact me directly and I can send it out.

This is what Little Light of Heaven is all about, being able to share with grieving families and caregivers and to let the light of our babies shine through as we reach out to others with faith, hope and love. This is how the healing begins and may it continue…

** Name changed