Supporting a Stillbirth : LUSENET : Doula.Com General Discussion : One Thread

This is more of a story than a question. I had the extreme honour and privilege of lending my support to a couple who delivered, at term, a son who only lived for 1 hour. They found out late in their pregnancy that the fetus had some major developmental problems and that it would not likely survive. I have to say that this birth was one of the most difficult, but also one of the most beautiful births I have had the honour to attend. If any other doula finds (or has found) herself in a similar position, I would welcome any questions or comments. One thing that helped me immensely was just talking to other doulas who had experienced a stillbirth. It helped me to prepare for my role and realize through experience that birth is and can be an empowering experience, even with such a devastating outcome.

Shawna (Edmonton, AB, Canada)

-- Shawna Douglas (, January 24, 2001


Dear Shawna: It is indeed a privilege to attend not merely a birth, but one so traumatic, and how dear of you to choose to share their pain. Ten years ago while working for a free-standing Birth Center in California, I had the privilege of not only teaching Childbirth Preparation to a 27-year-old single woman who would relinquish her baby to adoption. She had debated long whether to keep or give up her baby, had much prayer devoted to it, and in the end selected a very loving family for her son. While I applauded her choice, I had no idea the depth of pain it would invoke on her and all of us in attendance at her birth. She gave birth at the Birth Center, where the standard was to recover the Mom by having her first nurse before walking, emptying her bladder, and then immersing both Mom and Baby in a huge bathtub for clean-up and continued bonding. It was her desire to follow through with all of that, including the first nursing, knowing there would be no others. She labored with great support from a dear friend and the friend's parents, who were close friends and a Church Pastor. After completion of the birth and usual recovery procedures, it was the Pastor who then took the baby and handed him over to the adoptive parents, who were in the waiting area of the Birth Center.

My privilege was being there as an observer/photographer. The range of emotions for all of us in attendance went from enthralled at the miracle of life, careful attendance to the mother's comfort and physical recovery, allowing private bonding time, and then tears and heartbreak at her voluntarily relinquishing of her child. While I heartily supported her decision, it was nonetheless painful. My eyes were a blur of tears as I took the picture of the new parents' out- stretched arms toward little Matthew, still warm from his mother's body, cleaned and loved and nursed, then given selflessly to two parents. I no longer glibly refer to adoption as merely a solution to unwanted pregnancy, but reverence it as a very blessed, unselfish act. It forever changed me. Bless you! Kathi Miller, California

-- Kathi Miller, CCE (, August 08, 2001.

I found out that my baby girl Maisy had no heartbeat while I was in hostital for routine observation on a bad pregnancy rash, It was 4 days before my due date. I was told that I was to be induced straight away. I cannot explain the feelings my partner and I went through while waiting to go into labour, knowing that I would have to deliver my dead baby. I live in a borough of london that is not wealthy, and throughout my pegnancy had been toying with the idea of going to my parents for the birth as I knew my local hostital had stories of being poorly funded. However, I am glad that I gave birth in my local hospital afterall. The staff were fantastic, and I felt that they were as shocked, stunned and upset by the whole ordeal as I was. My partner and I were left alone in a room until labour commenced, and were told about the importance of a post mortom and asked to sign all the relevant forms. The midwife who induced me was very calm and sweet and stayed on 4 hours after her shift had ended. The midwife who took over was also fantastic and along with my sister (who is also a midwife, although does not work at the moment) talked me through the birth. When I delivered maisy we all cried together, I was allowed to hold her for about 1 hour. This was my 1st child and I found it very important to be told what was happening, how I was progressing, and how long it might take. Iwas in labour for 7 hours, and I truly believe that it was quick because I had made up my mind that I wanted the ordeal to be over with as quick as possible. The NHS service gets such bad press in britain but I now know that the people who work in it do the very best they can in difficult circumstances.

-- sarah blakemore (, December 02, 2001.

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