The death of a baby is an event no parent ever forgets, a time of intense anguish and sorrow. When a baby lives only a short time or dies before birth due to miscarriage, stillbirth or a painful decision to end the pregnancy, there is a common assumption that the loss is not important. This is simply not the case. The intensity of love parents feel for their baby is not measurable in weeks and months gestation, but in the emotional investment they have in this child.

For parents who are expecting a new life but find themselves facing death, and when a mother has physically given birth to a baby, accepting the reality of that emotionally is immensely difficult. Mothers will still experience all the normal post-natal reactions, which may be especially distressing because their baby has died.

When a baby dies, fathers often have a great deal to manage. Not only are they grieving for their baby, but their concern for their partner makes this a very difficult time. Often they may be asked how the baby’s mother is rather than how they, as fathers, are feeling themselves.

Society is likely to dictate that men should be strong, always ready and able to do the supporting – but fathers too have lost their baby and will need to find ways to express their grief. They too need support and care.

More information:

Capturing Memories

If your baby died before they were born or around the time of birth, when there are so few memories, scan images or photographs are one of the most precious mementos that you can have. Keepsakes such as foot and hand prints, perhaps a lock of hair or a written description of what your baby looked like can capture a memory of your baby’s life, however short, and can give you a focus for your grief.

You might like to make something in memory of your child, or if you don’t feel you can do this, you might like to buy something or ask someone to make something for you.

Read more about remembering

Resources to buy online

When your baby dies: a particular sort of grief
Author: Child Bereavement UK
Practical Advice and guidance for parents at the time of their baby’s death in hospital. Information space included for local sources of support to be added by the professional caring for the parents. Buy from Child Bereavement UK Online Shop

Memory Folder
Author: Child Bereavement UK
This folder can be given to families when their baby dies to keep important information about their baby, including hand and footprints, and small bag for hair etc. Buy from Child Bereavement UK Online Shop

Mainly for Fathers
A short booklet containing information that many fathers whose baby has died said they needed to know. It includes sections on feelings, telling other people, you and your partner, returning to work, certificates and registration. Download from SANDS

All Shining in the Spring
Author: Siobhan Parkinson
Matthew is looking forward to the new baby. He is planning how he will help with looking after his little brother or sister and the games they will play when the baby is older. Then there is sad news. The doctor tells Matthew’s parents that the baby is not growing properly inside its mother and will not be able to live after it is born. All Shining in the Spring is a child-centred, simply-written book. It is intended to give a child a clear and sympathetic understanding of the death of a baby, be it a family member or not. Buy from Amazon

Goodbye Baby – Cameron’s Story
Author: Lindsay Macleod
Cameron is looking forward to being a big brother. He doesn’t understand why his baby brother died and feels angry. He makes a special scrap-book with cards that people sent and draws a picture of how he thinks the baby might have looked. This book offers explanation and reassurance to primary school age children whose baby brother or sister has died. Buy from Amazon

Rory’s Star
Author: Scottish Cot Death Trust
Simple story to read with a young child when a baby sibling dies. The colourful pages help a difficult story to unfold in a gentle way. Buy from Scottish Cot Death Trust

Unspeakable Losses: Healing from Miscarriage, Abortion, and Other Pregnancy Loss
Author: Kim Kluger Bell
Written by a psychotherapist and counsellor ‘This is a wise and gentle book of healing for women and men who have experienced miscarriage, abortion, infertility and other pregnancy losses.’ Buy from Amazon

Fathers Feel Too
Author: Andrew Don
When Andrew Don’s baby Lara Jean died at five months in the womb, the hospital consultant sent his wife a condolence letter which didn’t mention him. Andrew felt like a non-person. Seven years on he turned his experience into a book telling the stories of 10 men who have lost babies either during pregnancy, at birth or during the first year of life. Buy from Amazon

A Silent Sorrow: Pregnancy Loss – Guidance and Support for You and Your Family
Author: Ingrid Kohn, Perry Lynn-Moffit and Isabelle Wilkins
For families seeking emotional and practical support after a pregnancy loss. Well organised and easy to read this book offers practical suggestions for the many topics covered. They include bereaved mothers, fathers, grandparents, explaining to your children and what might help. Sections can be read as and when bereaved parents feel able. Buy from Amazon

Supporting children when a baby has died
Booklet mainly for parents but useful for anyone who comes into contact with a child whose baby brother or sister has died before, at, or soon after birth. It includes information about the needs of older children and teenagers bereaved in this way. Download from SANDS

A Loss Too Soon
A Loss Too Soon is a DVD featuring two families who share their experiences, one of the death of a baby and the other of the death of their child.  It explores men’s and women’s reactions to loss. Buy from Child Bereavement UK Online Shop

Miscarriage

Miscarriage: What Every Woman Needs to Know
Author: Lesley Regan
Factual, frank and hopeful, this book is comprehensive. It is split into four parts, The Basic Facts, Understanding The Causes, Practical Issues and The Next Step. It is described as unpatronising and helpful. Buy from Amazon

Stillbirth and neonatal death

When a Baby Dies: The Experience of Late Miscarriage, Stillbirth and Neonatal Death
Author: Nancy Kohner and Alix Henley
In this book, parents who have lost a baby tell their stories. They speak about what happened, how they felt, how others have helped them and how they helped themselves. Using letters from and interviews with many bereaved parents, Nancy Kohner and Alix Henley have written a book that offers understanding of what it means to lose a baby and the grief that follows. Buy from Amazon

Losing a Baby 
Author: Sarah Ewing
This book is for those parents coping with the death of a young child. It’s written for the parents of babies who die before the age of two. It also covers babies born prematurely who might have lived, but not early miscarriages. This book covers: the first few days; practicalities (arranging the funeral etc); coming to terms with the death; coping as a couple; what to tell your other children; dealing with the outside world; getting counselling and support; traditional remedies and complementary therapies. Buy from Amazon

Living with Leo
Author: Mario Di Clemente
Leonardo Di Clemente was born on 27th January 2003 and died the following day. Leo’s father, Mario, has written movingly of his experience of prospective fatherhood and the distress of bereavement. Twelve letters written over a year, from a father to his son, tell the story of Mario’s life with Leo: of the excitement and anticipation, the grief and loss, and perhaps most important of all, the emergence of strength and hope. Buy from Amazon

Termination

ARC Publications
The charity Antenatal Results and Choices (ARC) offer a range of leaflets, including a “Parent’s Handbook”; “Help for Fathers”; “Help for Grandparents”; “Talking to Children” Order from Antenatal Results and Choices