We extend to you our love and concern along with some practical help as your deal with your hurt and the rocky days ahead. On this page you will find information about:

In hospital

Taking care of you

With the death of your baby, you may experience a lot of loss, including your plans, hopes and feelings of self-confidence or control.

Support from whanau and friends is important and welcome in the hospital, and we encourage you to surround yourself with the people you need. Remember:

  • It is okay to cry. You may find you feel better after you cry. You may feel like you will never stop crying, or worry that your tears will bother others - people can handle your tears and when you are ready, the tears will stop.
  • Remember there are people who care - this can help you move through your grief.

Your baby

  • Naming your baby - Your baby is a person and deserves a name. In traditional Māori thinking, a baby always belongs and is connected through whakapapa links to its ancestors by being given a name.
  • Mementoes - It is easier to grieve and then recover if you can keep and handle some reminders of your baby. Mementoes can include photographs, foot and hand prints, a name card from the cot or a name bracelet, a birth certificate once registered with Births, Deaths and Marriages. You may also wish to take the placenta home to bury. Feel free to ask your midwife, nurse or social worker to help you gather some of these things.
  • Seeing and holding your baby - You have the choice whether or not you would like to see your baby. If you are not sure, talk with your midwife, family member or nurse. You will be given privacy and as much times as you want. You are welcome to hold a ceremony to mark your baby's birth or death. There are rooms within the hospital for ceremonies such as this. There is a hospital chaplain available to you, or you may call upon your own religious leader.

Post mortem

A post-mortem is a careful examination of your baby's body with the hope that this examination will lead to a better understanding of the cause of death. This is done gently in a quiet room.

As the baby's parents, in most cases, you will have the final say as to whether a post-mortem will be performed, and you must sign a form granting your permission before the post-mortem can begin (The exception is in the case of a Coroner's enquiry. This will be fully explained to you should the situation arise). There is no rush in making this decision.

The results of the post-mortem will be available to your hospital doctor within six to eight weeks usually, the final report may take up to 12 weeks to complete. An appointment will be offered to you to visit the obstetrician and/or paediatrician some weeks later to discuss the findings. You are welcome to your own copy of the report.

The hospital mortuary

Auckland Hospital has its own baby mortuary 'The Rose Room' where babies are gently cared for. LabPLUS, situated on Level 3, also holds all placentas for up to seven days for parents who wish to take them home to bury. 

Funerals & registration

An important part of a funeral involves the recognition of the life of a person who has died. And your baby did have a life, however short. A formal goodbye helps us to accept that someone we love has died. 

Legal requirements:

  • If your baby dies before 20 weeks of pregnancy (miscarriage) and weighed less than 400 grams, there is no legal requirement to register your baby's birth or to bury them. You are still welcome to hold a funeral.
  • If your baby was stillborn after 20 weeks of pregnancy, and/or weighing more than 400 grams, there is a legal requirement to have their birth registered and to be buried or cremated in an appropriate manner. The death is not registered, but a medical certificate is completed at the hospital. A birth certificate is available to you on request from any Registrar of Births and Deaths.
  • If your baby suffered a Neonatal death (that is where your baby was born alive at any gestational age and later died) you are required to register your baby's birth and your baby must have a burial or cremation. Your baby's death will be registered (usually by a funeral director). A birth and death certificate can be issued on request.

There is no legal requirement to register your baby's birth within a set time, but after two years it can be complicated and requires that you notify the Central Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages in Lower Hutt, instead of your local Registrar. This could mean a delay in getting a birth certificate.

To register your baby contact the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages.(external link) Your midwife or nurse will advise you of the steps that need to take place.

Going home

Being at home can make the reality of losing your baby hit hard. Take your time, and don't rush into settling into your usual routine. Give yourself time to grieve.

Physical difficulties

Your breasts may fill with milk even if your baby was born very early. This discomfort will last for a couple of days and then gradually reduce as milk production ceases. Look after yourself by:

  • wearing a comfortable, well-supported bra.
  • drinking your normal fluid intake.
  • applying ice or cold packs for 10 minutes, every three hours.
  • expressing just a little milk to ease the discomfort if you wish.

You will have a vaginal discharge called lochia for approximately four weeks. However, each day the discharge will lessen and begin to appear brownish. If the discharge continues to be heavy, or if there are any clots or abdominal pain, fever or smelly discharge, contact your midwife or doctor.

Emotional difficulties

Denial, shock, guilt, anger, feelings of failure and helplessness are all normal feelings. It is important to maintain your nutrition and sleep, and work towards acceptance. This happens when your feelings of devastation turn to sadness as your begin to recognise the loss and learn to live with it.

Facing the future

Time can be a great healer. In time, you will notice the intensity of your feelings fading as you adjust to your loss. Most parents slowly come to feel that it is right for them to try to enjoy life again.

You are likely to be changed in some way by this experience. It is important to recognise that you can remember, love and miss your baby without grieving continuously. You can go ahead in life without forgetting your past. It is important to remember:

  • Be patient with your partner and yourself
  • Put off big decisions for at least a year
  • Give yourself time to say goodbye to this baby before you think about having another one
  • Losing a baby is incredibly difficult - even for grandparents and families. Everyone responds, grieves and recovers in different ways.

It is a good idea to have a post-natal check around six weeks after birth. You can do this through your GP. You will also be given an appointment at Auckland Hospital to see an obstetrician about that time or when all the results about your baby are available.

Where can I get help?

If you need support or advice, get in touch with a bereavement service or talk to your midwife or doctor. Support services include: