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Email: contact@bearsofhope.org.au

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Email: support@bearsofhope.org.au

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Before You Say Goodbye

In the days, months and years ahead, parents have found great comfort in the memorable moments they experienced, and the keepsakes they received, during their time in hospital with their baby.

It is important to be lead by your heart and not be pressured by others actions if they wish to do things differently, including your partner, family or staff members. The best way to remember your baby is whatever holds the most meaning for you. The time surrounding your baby’s birth and before saying goodbye for the last time, is ever so precious. With all our hearts, we do not want you to leave your baby with having any regrets.

Here are some ideas you might like to arrange before you leave the hospital or before you say goodbye to your baby. These are the links to your baby that will always remain a special part of you, and may bring great comfort to your soul.

Name your Baby

Naming your baby empowers you to acknowledge the precious life that he/she was and always will be. For parents who have lost a baby through early miscarriage, you may feel naming your baby seems silly or that naming your baby makes it too real for you, but it actually allows you to grieve the baby as a real person, and not just an idea.

See, Touch and Hold your Baby

We encourage you to see, touch and hold your baby, for as long as you like and as many times as you wish. You may unwrap your baby to see all of them, hold their hands, touch their face, fill their cheeks with beautiful kisses and whisper your eternal sweet love. You can have your baby sleep overnight with you and take your baby outside surrounded by the beauty of nature. This is your baby, and although they may seem extremely fragile, these will be the cherished moments you will hold onto for the rest of your life.

If you are concerned about how your baby might look, please ask a staff member what to expect. If you’re not up to it or decide not to see your baby, the hospital may take a photo so that if you change your mind later, you have it there. There is no right or wrong way to how you are feeling and what you want to do or not want to do. You are allowed to change your mind whenever you wish. You may ask for a particular staff member or Social Worker to help you during this time.

You can ask staff to leave the room so that it’s just you and your family. Siblings, grandparents and other close family & friends may also want to see your baby. It is a very individual choice but please know many parent’s who decided not to see their baby, have regretted that decision for years later. Research has especially found that failure to see and hold your baby could have adverse effects and cause delayed grieving.

Take Photos

Photos are one of the only tangible images of your baby you will have for the rest of your lives. Please take as many photos as you can of your baby. Most hospitals have a camera and will offer you one to use. Please note that Polaroid photo’s can fade with time so it is best to try and get a high quality digital camera. Please don’t feel as though you are limited to a few photos on their camera. Take as many as you like. Even if your baby is in NICU, many parents wait till their baby moves to the next step to take photos. Sadly not all babies do, so please take photo’s where you can.

Organise a professional photographer if you wish.

You might like to take pictures of you holding onto your baby’s hand, cuddles as a family, baby’s feet & hands, a moment between dad and baby, mum and baby, and your baby with their sibling/s, your baby with keepsakes such as a teddy, quilt or in premmie clothes they were given, photo’s of their outfit, photos of dressing and bathing your baby, photos of the flowers and gifts you were given, photos of your baby with their grandparents, aunties and uncles. Be sure to get close up shots as well.

Again, it is a personal choice as to what memories you would like to take home with you. You may wish to get someone else (such as a social worker or staff member) to take the photos if either of you feel you are not up to it at the time. If there were any ultrasounds taken, feel free to ask for them too.

Heartfelt

A volunteer organisation across Australia who offer their professional photographic services at no cost to families who experience a stillbirth (over 22weeks), premature and ill infants and children in the Neonatal Intensive Care Units of local hospitals.
Website

Video Footage

You may like to organize a video camera to capture special moments with your baby such as during NICU, bathing and dressing, or just having cuddles. It is ok to video your baby after they have passed away.

Bath and Dress your Baby

Your baby will be bathed and dressed some time after their passing. You can choose to do these yourselves by letting the staff know. Although confronting and inconceivably heartbreaking, spending time with your baby allows you to be that mother and father in a loving active role if only for a brief time.

Take your Baby Home

You may ask to take your baby home and spend some time in the privacy and comfort of your own home. There are no legal boundaries on doing this as long as you let the staff know and be advised on how long you can go for.

Hand/Foot Prints & 3D Casts

Many hospitals have ink pads so that you can get hand and foot prints of your baby to take home with you. These usually go in the memento book some hospitals provide. These will be permanently fixed in them so we encourage you to get a few sets done so that you are not limited to their use. You can also get 3D castings of your baby’s feet and hands. Some hospitals may have a contact for this on hand otherwise you could ask a family member/friend to organize this for you. Twinkletoes in NSW and ACT offer this beautiful memory creating service.

Memento Book/Medical Records

Some hospitals have beautiful baby memento books to give to you which include birth details, space for pictures, hand/foot prints, and keepsakes such as a lock of hair, wristband and tape measure. This is a much treasured keepsake received by parents. Medical records are also given to you before you leave the hospital. You may have to ask about hospital policy with providing you with copies of medical documentation from your baby’s stay in NICU or any other notes that were taken.

Blessing

You might like to consider getting your baby blessed in the hospital and some hospitals have a priest or clergy available to do this, or you can bring in someone of your choice. It is still possible for your baby to receive a blessing if they have passed away.

Baby Items

Please don’t be afraid to ask for anything that is of significance to you and your baby. You might like to have your baby’s cot card, a lock of hair, their identification bracelet, your identification band, clothing, the eye covers (sunnies) used in NICU, blood pressure band, or the tape used to measure your baby. Some hospitals donate quilts, a teddy and clothing for your baby.

Writing

You might like to start writing down your thoughts and feelings in a diary, or begin to write poetry to help you face the heartbreak you are experiencing. You also might like to write down facts and information about your baby and your stay whilst in hospital. Sometimes details are lost through our shock so having them written down can help us retrieve that information later.

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