Creating Memories After an Early Pregnancy Loss
Following and early pregnancy loss, some parents are left wondering if their pregnancy was ever real. There are many ways to create mementos that relate to baby’s existence. Parents often describe that creating lasting memories of their baby is an acknowledgement of the reality of their baby’s brief life.
For parents who experience early miscarriage there may not be any physical evidence of the baby. When miscarriage occurs later in pregnancy parents may have the opportunity to see and touch their baby. This will depend on the type of miscarriage you experienced and how developed the baby was when miscarriage occurred.
Some ways parents have created memories of their baby include:
- Deciding what gender your baby was (if unknown);
- Naming him or her;
- Inviting extended family and friends to participate in a memorial occasion to acknowledge your baby;
- Conducting a ceremony of significance for their culture or belief appropriate to your culture or belief to acknowledge your baby;
- Planting a shrub or tree in memory of your baby, perhaps one that flowers around the time of the expected birth date or another significant time;
- Keeping a journal or diary to write about your baby, the hopes and dreams you had and the things you would have done together;
- Writing poetry and about your experience of loss;
- Drawing the image you have of your baby, or having an artist professionally draw your baby from a description and possibly from photos;
- Collecting any early ultrasound pictures, medical reports and papers, arm brands, etc. from their hospital admission;
- Sending cards, or writing to family and friends letting them know what has happened;
- Choosing a piece of jewellery, e.g. a locket on a chain, a bracelet, a birthstone or ring engraved with your baby’s name or initials;
- Choosing a special painting, book or ornament to place in your home in memory of your baby;
- Placing a memorial to your baby in the personal notices section of a newspaper;
- Creating a birth, name giving or memorial certificate, which can be displayed at home or kept in an album with other mementos;
- Some families gather memories of their baby over weeks, months or years;
- You may like to set up a memorial webpage;
Treasured Babies’ Program
Red Nose Grief and Loss have a program called “The Treasured Babies’ Program”. The Treasured Babies’ Program began with the aim of supporting bereaved parents while they are still in hospital with their baby (or babies in the case of a multiple birth).
The Treasured Babies’ gifts are supplied to hospitals to give parents something special in which to dress their precious baby.
Outfits have been designed and developed with input from midwives, social workers and bereaved parents for families who experience the loss of their precious baby prior to full term. Some of the garments open out flat for babies who might be quite fragile, to ensure they are able to be dressed with a minimum of handling.
The Treasured Babies’ Program aims to help hospital staff support families by having gestation-appropriate Treasured Babies’ gifts on hand to give to newly bereaved parents. These gifts contain beautiful handmade clothing that has been specially designed, relevant literature and a naming certificate.
The Treasured Babies’ Program also supplies Angel boxes for burial, Memory boxes in which to keep precious items and Remembrance boxes for early losses.
For some parents a memorial service provides an opportunity to acknowledge and say goodbye to their baby. Through a funeral or memorial service, family and friends can share in the parents’ loss. Many parents describe that holding a memorial service was helpful for them in the months that followed. A service can be arranged through a funeral director or celebrant, or alternatively, the parents may decide to arrange a ceremony themselves. The hospital social worker or other staff may be able to help with information and ideas. Following a funeral, the baby’s body may be buried or cremated.
The Red Nose Grief and Loss booklet Choices in Arranging a Child’s Funeral1 may also be helpful and can be viewed on the website.
Any of the above suggestions may be of use in creating memories. For some families it doesn’t feel right or make sense to create memories in these ways. There are no right or wrong ways and it is important that you do whatever you feel comfortable with. Help and support in creating memories may be available from medical or hospital staff, family or friends or counsellors at Red Nose Grief and Loss.
“You know, I’ll never forget this miscarriage.
I might not tell other people but I will remember.”
This article was prepared using extracts from Miscarriage: Information for Parents and Families.2 The full text is available online or contact Red Nose Grief and Loss Services on 1300 308 307 for a printed version.
Last reviewed: 16/1/19
- Bereaved Parents and Siblings & SIDS Australia. (2000) Choices in Arranging a Child’s Funeral : A Booklet by and for Parents whose Baby or Young Child has Died Suddenly and Unexpectedly (P. Jones, V. Jones & T. Ross, Illus.). Malvern, Vic.: SIDS Australia.
- Braithwaite, J., Richardson, R. & Waterson, P. (eds.). (2011). Miscarriage: Information for Parents and Families ( M.McSpedden, H. Wilkinson, L. Pash, T. Diamond & M. Zang, Rev.) (7th ed.). Lilyfield, NSW: SIDS and Kids NSW.