Few things in life are as painful as losing a child, but many parents in the U.S. lose their baby during the birthing process. The National Institute of Health recently called the stillborn rate in the U.S. “unacceptably high.” Every year, more than 20,000 pregnancies are lost at 20 weeks or more and the expected baby is born dead.
Women of color are more likely to see their pregnancy end in stillbirth compared to white women. According to the CDC, black pregnancies have a one in 97 chance of ending in stillbirth, American Indian or Alaska Native pregnancies have a one in 128 chance, Hispanic pregnancies have a one in 205 chance, white pregnancies have a one in 211 chance, and Asian pregnancies have a one in 254 chance of ending in stillbirth.
Parents are also 6.5 times more likely to lose a baby to stillbirth than they are to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), which tends to get more attention.
So, what can providers do to ease the grieving process while honoring the children who never get to meet their parents?
One high-risk labor nurse went on TikTok to share how she puts together a memory box for each stillborn baby, so the family doesn’t have to go home empty-handed.
“I always remember my patients that leave with a box rather than their baby,” she captioned the clip, which currently has over 4.2 million views.
She makes many of the items from scratch, including a customized bracelet with the baby’s name, footprints, a tiny lock of hair, hospital clothing designed for infants sewn by volunteers, photos to help the parents remember their child, and a teddy bear full of sand that weighs the exact weight of the baby.
“We give the family this box to honor their child’s memory and make sure they know that we remember your baby,” she added in the captions.
It’s a heartwarming gesture that will stay with the family forever.
Studies show the type of care parents receiving during and after the stillbirth can affect how they grieve. Having something physical to hold onto can help the parents process the loss, so they can deal with it in a healthy way.
Lots of people shared their experience of losing a child in the comments section.
“I was full term, and my first son was stillborn… [I] wish I would of had a fraction of this,” wrote one woman.
“I had my stillborn son when I was 19 years old, at almost 30 weeks pregnant… I wish someone would’ve done that for me so bad,” added another.
“This was really hard to see. My daughter was stillborn at full term in July. I miss her. Thank you,” wrote someone else.
And finally, “I will never forget the nurses who did this for me. Truly blessings on earth. Thank you so much!” said another.
Follow @labor_junkie_rn on TikTok to see more of her experiences in the delivery ward.