There are certain things you learn after a still birth things no-one talks about and during the process seem normal but you don’t tend to prepare for as such. This is MY experience and doesn’t mean will happen to you.
Our body’s are full of the stuff and it comes from many places!
Your baby will most likely leak blood from their nose. Movement and warmth will make the body release more. Elva also had some from her mouth and small amount from her bloodshot eye.
They will still release meconium I hadn’t known this so had’t prepared with a nappy. You could use a hanky, flannel or cut up a t-shirt or fleece and fold round baby if you’ve no access to anything more.
Fluid will collect round the back of baby. Elva had fluid at the back of her head, in her tummy and her back would release fluid too. As a result blood got on her blankets, sheets and dress. You may wish to have an absorbent layer like towelling for baby or have a few outfits so can dress baby at birth and have a fresh outfit before the funeral this is a personal choice.
Fleece blankets are good as they don’t allow the fluid to seep through.
Depending at what point your baby dies depends on how they look.
If your baby died in labour or shortly after they may look more skin coloured and just like they are asleep. If baby is premature they may have redder look to them due to translucent skin common in premmies.
Some baby’s looked bruised with dark lips others not. Many are born with eyes closed and premature baby’s may still have fused eyes lids.
Elva had her eyes open, her fingers and toes weren’t fused. She had a very dark, bruised, fluid filled tummy. Her bones felt fragile and loose. Her skull plates weren’t fused and her skin was a bit saggy due to having no fat giving her a grumpy expression. She had a bruised, red colouring to her which did fade a little after trauma of labour and birth but still remain rather pink with grey areas.
Getting baby released
To start funeral proceedings you need to have baby released from the hospital. If you opt for a post mortem this can take longer sometimes a few weeks.
If like me you don’t then you need to register your baby’s birth and death to obtain a form to give to the funeral directors. Many offices will be aware you’re registering a still birth and will attempt to give you an appointment that doesn’t coincide with a live birth registration. You can always arrange for the hospital to ring for you or some will come to the hospital provided you’re not discharged.
Once this is done the funeral director can collect your baby from the hospital.
You can see your baby any time you like. You can even take baby home with you till the funeral. This is something to discuss with the hospital and funeral directors as may be some practical issues to discuss.
Unless baby is undergoing a post mortem which usually occurs within days of birth you can visit baby in hospital before he/she is released to the funeral directors.
Once baby is no longer in hospital you’re able to visit baby in the chapel of rest as often as you like and for as long as you like. For me seeing Elva helped me immensely I was able to make sure every part of her was burnt into my memory.
The day before or of the funeral you’re also able to have the baby home. This can be sealed coffin or not your choice again. Many find it comforting that even just for a few hours or minutes baby did come home.
This is the hardest part of all this. The fact of life involves death and with death comes certain natural changes to the body which you will have to face if you wish to see baby after leaving hospital. Unless you leave hospital very quickly you will start to spot these changes anyway.
First noticeable change in Elva was her face. As I’ve mentioned few times she had probably died and was therefore born with her eyes open. One eye was bloodshot and therefore bulged more than the other. The eyes started to dry out quickly as would yours if you never blinked. This caused her face to look less swollen meaning her forehead drooped a bit more. Her tongue was swollen also but soon settled and her mouth closed.
As mentioned above about fluid as more seeps out your baby will shrink a little each day. Not massively and you may only noticed if take comparison shots but it will occur.
Their skin will be next sign. Elva’s skin felt quite sticky and was very fragile too. Fluid started to collect in her arms which pushed the skin to split and seep. Her arms and legs were first to start losing skin and take on a raw skin look that was stickier.
As the days passed she looked greyer and shrinking was still occurring.
By day of funeral we left her wrapped in her blanket. This was 2 weeks after her demise in my womb and 10 days post birth. Her legs had lost a lot of shape and were very rigid and sadly to say they had a greener grey tinge to them. Her tummy was seeping a lot now also and her arms were fairly sticky but not as bad as her legs.
Her eyes were very sunken which made her finally look like she’d fallen into her eternal sleep for me this was a comfort.
The other thing I noticed that others have said they didn’t was a smell. The initial days she smelt of new baby then of unwashed new baby. At this point you would probably bathe your baby but we had left hospital and she wasn’t at home so wasn’t really an option. To me it smelt like lightly dirty bins. However, I will add in the pregnancy my smell was very vivid, the smallest things smelt awful. Plus she was unwashed and personally in the past I’ve hated the new baby smell and washed my children within 2 days of birth.
The process of change is not a rapid one. To some degree it is but in other ways you don’t notice it as much as you think you will so please don’t worry. Remember this is MY experience and no two families have exact same sequence of events occur.