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Grief Support

Whether a miscarriage, stillborn death, or the loss of a baby after birth, the death of a child is devastating. If you have suffered the death of a child, please be assured that there are many people who are trained to help you cope with the grieving process.

 

Explore this page to learn more about coping with grief, support available to families, and tips for supporting a loved one who experienced a loss.

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Experiencing Grief

Experiencing Grief

You are going through a very difficult time in your life and you have the right to feel sad. There’s no right or wrong way to grieve the death of a pregnancy or baby. It may seem impossible to ever get over a loss like this, but you can find ways to ease the pain. Over time you can find peace.

Some ways that you can begin healing include:

  • Remembering and honoring your baby, an important part of the healing process 

  • Talking to people you love and trust

  • Taking care of your health, including eating well and moving your body

  • Staying hydrated by drinking water or juice (it’s better to stay away from alcohol and caffeine, because they can make sad feelings more intense) 

  • Talking to your doctor if you experience intense sadness that keeps you from taking care of yourself or older children

  • Getting help immediately if you have thoughts of hurting yourself 

Support

Grief Support

Sometimes you might feel like you’re the only one out there who feels this pain. But there are many people you can connect with to help you find what you need to begin your healing journey. Some people find it helpful to talk with family and friends. For others, it can help to talk to someone trained to help deal with grief -- a social worker, counselor, health provider, or a religious leader.  

 

It also can help to talk to others who know what you are going through. Through bereavement support groups, you can learn how to grieve and find ways to remember your baby.

The HOPE Project

  • Why should my baby sleep alone? I feel safer with my baby near me.
    We know that when parents sleep in the same bed as their baby, they are trying to do what they think is best. Unfortunately, co-sleeping is really dangerous. Most sleep-related deaths in Baltimore happen when babies sleep with an adult or with other children. Remember, it doesn't take much for a baby to suffocate. Co-sleeping is a common practice in some cultures. While it is wonderful to preserve most cultural traditions, some need to be adapted. For example, American beds are soft, high, and have a lot of blankets and pillows. These features make them unsafe for babies. If you are worried about bonding, keeping your baby's crib in your room is a great idea! Share a room, not a bed.
  • My baby sleeps better when they’re next to me. What are some other ways to soothe them?
    The sleep habits you set now will carry into childhood. When you put your baby to sleep in a crib from the beginning, they will get used to it. You will also be able to sleep better and more soundly knowing your baby is safe. Here are some of the things that you can do to help your baby sleep peacefully in their crib: Swaddle your baby (NOTE: you should stop swaddling when your baby starts to roll over) Create a bedtime routineUse a pacifier Give your baby a massage The first few weeks with a baby are rewarding, but the lack of sleep can be challenging. Hang in there. It will get better.
  • But isn't my baby more likely to choke on their back?
    Many parents believe that babies are more likely to choke if they sleep on their back. This is not true. In fact, your baby is LESS likely to choke on his or her back. Watch the video clip understand why.
  • What if my baby can roll over?
    Once babies are able to roll over from back to stomach on their own, there is no need to watch or reposition them during sleep. Babies should still be placed on their backs for sleep, but you don't need to worry about keeping them that way. Do not use a pillow or rolled up blanket to keep your baby on his or her back. These items increase the chances of your baby suffocating.
  • My older relatives say that they put their babies to sleep on their stomach.
    You may hear from older relatives that they put their babies to sleep on their stomachs. A lot has changed in the last 20 years and we now know a lot more about infant safety. In fact, when pediatricians began recommending that babies sleep on their back, the number of babies dying in their sleep dropped dramatically.
  • Why do I need to get a crib for my baby to sleep?
    The crib is the ONLY safe place for your baby to sleep. Your baby shouldn’t sleep on an adult bed or couch or with pillows, cushions or stuffed animals. Your baby could be suffocated in these soft materials. Your baby also could become trapped in between cushions on a couch or get stuck between the bed and the wall. These tragic situations occur all too frequently in Baltimore City.
  • Won't my baby get cold without a sheet or blanket?
    Dress your baby in a sleeper for warmth, but do not use blankets or allow your baby to get too warm. Overheating can be a risk for SIDS. A good rule of thumb is to dress your baby in the same amount of layers that you are wearing. If the room temperature is comfortable for you, then it is also comfortable for your baby.
  • Is it safe for my baby to wear a sleep sack?
    Sleep sacks and wearable blankets can be part of a safe sleep routine. Because these are an extra layer, be mindful of overheating, a leading cause of SIDS. You can avoid overheating by following this rule: when inside, dress your baby in the same number of layers that you are wearing. If a room's temperature is comfortable for you, it's comfortable for your baby. Please also remember that not every product that is marketed for safe sleep is actually safe, even if it is sold in stores or online. For example, weighted sleepwear is not safe. Before you purchase these products, it is important to do your research and to ask your baby's doctor. To check if a product has ever been recalled, visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Recall List.
  • What kind of crib should I get for my baby?
    Your baby’s crib does not need to be fancy or expensive, but it must be safe. There are many types of stationary and portable cribs (such as a Pack ‘n Play™ or the portable crib given out by HealthCare Access Maryland) that are safe—you just have to make sure that it meets current safety guidelines. When purchasing a crib, look for Juvenile Product Manufacturers Association (JPMA) certification. If you borrow a crib, check to make sure that the slats are no more than 2-3/8 inches apart. Widely spaced slats can trap an infant's head. The mattress should be firm and fit snugly in the crib. The crib sheet should fit tightly all the way around and under the mattress. Nothing else should be in the crib with your baby – no quilts, blankets, comforters, pillows, bumper pads, stuffed animals, or soft toys. Car seats and infant carriers should not be used as your baby’s bed. Your baby could get knocked over or roll over. It’s just not worth taking a risk.
  • Why is it important to have a smoke-free home?
    Babies who breathe in smoke are more likely to have lifelong health problems. They are also more likely to die while sleeping. Smoke is a houseguest that always overstays its welcome. Even if you open a window, it drifts around the house and even stays in fabrics and dust. Keep the air in your home clean by asking smokers to go outside. Here are some tips to make your home smoke-free: Ask smokers to smoke outside Get all ashtrays, matches, and lighters out of your home Post a sign on your front door so visitors know not to smoke 

  • Doesn't my baby need to spend time on their tummy?
    Yes! You can provide 'tummy time' when he is awake and being watched. This will help strengthen his neck and arm muscles and prevent flat spots on the back of his head.

The HOPE Project educates, empowers, and supports mothers who have had a pregnancy or infant loss. The program provides resources and comfort care and teaches how to plan for a healthy future. The HOPE Project provides a safe space to talk about your sadness and support you in finding ways to begin healing.

 

There are several HOPE programs to choose from:

Digital Support

You may not be ready to meet with others in person. There are many discussion forums and support groups online. A great example is the March of Dimes’ Share Your Story. There are also many private support groups on social media. 

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“It’s been life-changing. It’s been good to be with people who understand what I’m going through. I’ve made new friends for life through the HOPE program. I can actually say I came broken, but I’m leaving whole."

-Surprina

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“When I lost my baby Princess Grace it was a very difficult time....There are parts of me that are still healing, but the support really helps."

-Charnell

Supporting Someone Who Has Experienced a Loss

Supporting Someone

If you have a loved one who has suffered the loss of a pregnancy or baby, you may have a hard time knowing how to support them or what to say. The most important thing you can do is acknowledge that, no matter how long the baby was with us, that baby was real and their life mattered. It can be tempting to try to help your loved one get over the loss, but the most important things to remember are to just listen, affirm their feelings, and love them.

 

When talking to your loved one, be mindful of the words you are using and what they may be communicating to your friend. It is difficult to see a friend in pain, but if you rush to try to fix the situation or give advice, you may accidentally minimize their experience.

Instead of...
Try...
“You’ll get over it.”
“I love you and am sorry you’re going through this pain.”
“You’re young. You can have another baby.”
“Take as long as you need—don’t feel like you need to hurry up your healing.”
“Everything happens for a reason.”
“This is not your fault.”
“At least you know you can get pregnant.”
“You are—and will always be—a mother/father/parent.”
“At least it happened early.”
“I know how much you loved this baby.” (Use the baby’s name if they had one)

Another great way to support your loved one is to enable them to care for themselves. You can bring them meals, take care of older children, or just be available to listen. There is no wrong way to be there for someone. Often times, people experiencing the loss of a child feel alone, so the most important thing is to let your friend know that you love them and that you are thinking about them.

Resources
You are not alone. There are many groups and organizations that want to help you on your path to healing.

Grief Resources

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HOPE Project

Peer-led grief support groups and home visiting.

410-235-6633

First Candle

Information and tips for coping with grief.

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March of Dimes

Pregnancy loss support, including information for families who experienced loss of a multiple.

Here2Help Hotline

If you are in crisis, this helpline will connect you to immediate help and services.

988
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