Why it's OK for parents to spend time with stillborn babies

A birth and bereavement doula in Saskatoon says making memories with stillborn babies can help parents grieve their loss.

Birth and bereavement doula in Saskatoon explains how she helps families grieve loss of little one

Birth and bereavement doulas can help mothers and families cope with the grief of having a stillborn baby. (Dragan Grkic/Shutterstock)

Jasmin Herchak wants people to understand that it can be perfectly normal to spend time with a stillborn baby.

She told CBC Radio's The Afternoon Edition on Tuesday that as a birth and bereavement doula in Saskatoon, she helps mothers and families grieving over stillborns make memories with their little ones.

"Whether it be bathe their baby or sing to their baby or take pictures or dress their baby — there's no wrong thing to do," Herchak said. "That's the only time they will ever have."

One possible way parents can do this is through the use of a cuddle cot, which she said functions as a cooling system.

Whether it be bathe their baby or sing to their baby or take pictures or dress their baby — there's no wrong thing to do- Jasmin Herchak

"It enables the family to keep baby with them in the room as opposed to taking baby back and forth to the morgue," Herchak said.

She explained that the device looks like a bassinet and does not have an imposing appearance. 

This coming May, Herchak is taking part in the Evening With Angels fundraiser to purchase a cuddle cot for her hospital in Saskatoon.

Personal experience

If Herchak had a little more guidance during her own traumatic experience, she might have made different choices.

She said that she was 20 weeks into the pregnancy and in hospital with her husband when they were informed that their daughter's heart stopped beating.

"We were given the option of either having labour induced immediately or going home," Herchak said. "At that moment, the sound of going home and waiting just seemed crazy." 

If we had someone to support us emotionally... it would have made all the difference- Jasmin Herchak

However, Herchak said that having the assistance of a birth and bereavement doula would have allowed her to slow down the process and perhaps decide to spend more time at home.

"The nurses were kind but their main responsibility is for the physical aspect of delivery," Herchak said. 

"If we had someone to support us emotionally and to explain our choices and let us know it's OK to take pictures of (our daughter), or look over her little body or spend more time with her — it would have made all the difference."

Herchak said she offers up to six weeks of services and there is also a support group in the works set to start up at Saskatoon's W. A. Edwards Family Centre this May.


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