You’ve been told that your baby is going to die. Some parents hear this news during pregnancy and then make the impossible choice to terminate the pregnancy. Read more about this at termination of pregnancy.

It is also possible to carry the pregnancy to term, but your baby dies in your belly during the pregnancy. Read more about this in the case of stillbirth.

Sometimes something goes wrong during childbirth that has caused damage to your baby that is so severe that he cannot continue to live. It also happens that babies contract infections in the first period after their birth and become seriously ill as a result. Or your baby was born prematurely and dies as a result of this premature birth. This can be an infection, a lung problem or a brain haemorrhage, among other things. But it is also possible that your baby has a birth defect that is not compatible with life.

You will often wonder why this has happened and why no one has been able to do anything. What if we were there earlier, what if they had administered other medications, what if a different decision had been made? Many parents also blame themselves; What if I hadn’t worked so long, what if I hadn’t painted the baby’s room. Very logical thoughts. It is therefore good to go through all these scenarios later with your treating physician. A conversation with the spiritual counselor or medical social worker can also be very helpful.

Your baby will end up in the NICU. That’s the intensive care unit for newborn babies. The care there is optimal and your baby is intensively monitored 24 hours a day. The nurses and doctors will do everything they can to make your baby better, but unfortunately that doesn’t always work.

If the doctors know there’s nothing more they can do, they’ll tell you about it in conversation. They will also indicate afterwards what the possibilities are to fill in the last moments. Because the child does not die unexpectedly, some things can be thought about just a little better. In this situation, there is often enough time to calmly decide how you want to do things as a parent in your own desired way. Take the time you need. For example, write down everything that is said (or have someone else do it who is there a lot). This way you can easily find out what was actually discussed. Also write down all the questions so that you can ask them when you talk to the doctor. You can also get a printout of what nurses write down in the file. That is written in medical terms, but perhaps it is still nice to have.

In many NICUs, there is the option to put a large bed in a separate room. You can lie in this together and keep your baby with you for a while. Your baby will initially be placed with you with all tubes, IVs and ventilation. When you are ready, they will slowly take everything away. Your baby will then die in your arms. It is impossible to say how long this will take after the treatment has stopped.

It’s nice to have your baby naked with you for as long as possible. Now he is still warm and this first contact is very important. This moment will never come back. Over time, your baby will get colder and you can bathe and dress him. They will also make hand and foot prints in the hospital.

Taking your baby home

Many parents choose to take the baby home. This way you have plenty of time to take a good look at your baby and “get to know” it and make memories (see help card making memories and days until the funeral)

When you bring your baby home, your baby needs to be kept cool. This can be done in several ways:

  1. Baby Cooling
  2. Ice packs or ice packs
  3. Internal embalming/thanatopraxia

Read all about the laying out methods for days until the funeral.

Investigation into the cause of death?

Sometimes the cause of your baby’s death is immediately clear because, for example, an infection has been detected or because the placenta has detached. Those are things that can be seen on the outside. If the cause is not immediately known, you can have your baby examined further. Read more about the different methods of research here.

“ After the devastating news, the doctor asks what we want. Do we want to sit on a big bed with Myla? Do we want to sit on a big bed next to Myla? Every effort is made to meet our wishes. When Myla passed away, we wanted nothing more than to hold her. Finally that was possible and that felt good, despite the fact that she had passed away. For the first time, we were able to wash and dress her. ”

~ Mathijs, father of Alec, Myla* and Liva

“ The words, "It's not compatible with life," reverberate through my mind forever. At the same time, I was grateful that we were able to fulfill the parental role again. Letting her go would mean doing the right thing as parents. We regained control. That also gave me peace of mind. The last, special 24 hours that followed were tough but beautiful. Grateful that we were able to 'wrap it up' like this. My greatest happiness is Félice. My greatest sadness is Félice. I am most grateful that Félice came into my life and she made me a mom. ”

~ Juliette, mother of Félice*, Iselle, Boet and Roef