Stillbirth support for bereaved families

stillbirth support

by Lorna White |
Published on

Losing a baby at any stage during or post pregnancy is one of the most devastating things that can happen to a family, so it's understandable why having stillbirth support is so important.

From the moment you find out the heartbreaking news to grieving your painful loss, we're here to support you and your loved ones going through this extremely difficult time.

What is a stillbirth?

A stillbirth is when a baby passes away before or during labour after 24 weeks of pregnancy.

Although this advice is written for those who have experienced stillbirth, the advice may still be helpful for those going through any kind of baby loss.

Finding out you've lost your baby

It might be that you've felt a change or that your midwife or doctor has picked something up during a scan or appointment. The first thing that will happen is that you'll be given an ultrasound scan to check for your baby's heartbeat.

If there's a chance that there will be no heartbeat, you should make sure you are with someone or ask the hospital to call someone to come and be by your side.

If there is no heartbeat present, the process will start for you to give birth to your baby. Depending on your own personal situation, you may be allowed to go home for things to progress naturally or doctors may want to keep you in hospital to be induced. At this point, you may also be put in touch with a bereavement support officer or bereavement midwife who will guide you through this very difficult time and be on hand to answer any questions or concerns you have. They will also be there to support you and your partner both emotionally and physically.

What happens after a stillbirth?

If the scan doesn't go to plan, and you hear the words you've been dreading, it's likely you'll be filled with all sorts of thoughts and feelings. Feelings of guilt, anxiousness, depression, stress and loneliness are all very normal after going through such a traumatic experience. Your bereavement support officer will be there to offer help and guidance to you during this painful period, and they'll be able to point you in the direction of charities and organisations who can help you in the weeks, months and years following your loss.

After giving birth to your baby, it's entirely up to you what you do at this point. You may feel comfort from spending some time holding your baby and having some quiet time. Some parents choose to name their baby, get some hand and footprints made or take photos they can cherish forever.

Some hospitals can also provide cuddle cots to families to allow the parents to spend some extra time with baby. These special cots are designed with a cooling system to help slow down the natural changes your baby will go through after being born.

Alternatively, you might find this is all too difficult and not want this time together. Whatever you decide, it's entirely your decision and you should only do what you feel comfortable doing.

You may also find that your body starts producing milk which can be a very upsetting and uncomfortable experience after losing a baby. Although this supply will eventually dry up naturally, if it is distressing you, speak to your health professionals who may be able to prescribe you with medication to stop your milk supply.

After you've spent your time with baby, you may want to consider cherishing your baby's memory forever with some ashes jewellery.

Stillbirth support

Remember, you don't have to go through this alone if you feel you need some help or support. Make sure you share what you're feeling with close friends and family members, speak to your GP, midwife and health visitor and see if they can put you in touch with support groups or other mums who have experienced what you're going through.

There are a range of charities and support services that are there to support you or anyone who has been affected by the stillbirth of your baby.


Call their helpline for free on 0800 0147 800 or email them at (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm)


Call 0808 164 3332 for free. The helpline is open 10am to 3pm Monday to Friday and 6pm to 9pm Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings.

Cruse Bereavement Care

Visit their website or or call the helpline 0844 477 9400 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm).

How to support someone after stillbirth

Knowing what to say to someone or how to support them after they've been through baby loss can be extremely difficult. The most important thing to do is to reach out to let them know you are there to listen and support them whenever they feel ready to talk, even if you don't know what to say at this point.

The key advice to understand is that you should be led by the parents and be there for them as and when they need you to be. It’s likely they will need you, in some way or another at some point. Just be sure to keep that door open for them for whenever they are ready.

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