Pregnancy and baby loss

If you have, are currently, or are about to experience the loss of your baby, we are sincerely sorry for your loss.

Pregnancy and baby loss affects nearly all women. If this includes you, you are not alone in your experience although at many times this can feel the case.

Approximately 20-25% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, a pregnancy loss in the first trimester before 14 weeks.

Although loss is much less common after this point, it does still occur. For every 1000 babies born, 10 will die between 20 weeks gestation and 28 days of life.

Regardless of the point in your pregnancy loss occurs, or the reason for the loss, there is support available. Monash Women’s has a strong ethos and history of caring for women experiencing loss with dedicated spaces for families birthing in the setting of known or inevitable loss as well as excellent support form specially trained midwives, and family time post-birth with your baby as you require and in the manner you choose including a specially adapted cot, photography and other supports.

We also wish to see you a few weeks and sometimes again later after the birth of your baby to ensure your physical and emotional state is as expected, talk through natural emotions of the time and discuss the results of any testing requested to explain the loss and what may be done differently in a subsequent pregnancy.

Medical interruption of pregnancy

Medical interruption of a pregnancy involves inducing labour and birth deliberately. This is done in situations where the mother has a life-threatening condition which requires stopping the pregnancy for her own wellbeing/treatment or where the baby has a lethal, life-threatening or life altering diagnosis if desired by the mother after detailed discussions of the diagnosis and implications.

If you have decided to medically interrupt your pregnancy, these are never lightly taken decisions and we understand how difficult taking the step of interrupting your pregnancy is for you and your family.

Stillbirth and late miscarriage

Experiencing the unexpected or expected loss of a baby in the womb also means experiencing birth of your baby. It is important to know this does not need to be immediate and you have time to grieve privately and prepare. We will work with you and your supports on choosing the best time and Monash Health site in which to give birth.

How will I give birth?

In general, women experiencing pregnancy loss after the first trimester are encouraged to have a labour and vaginal birth as this is medically safer than a surgical procedure. The exact details vary depending on your medical and surgical history and the time in your pregnancy and timing of your loss, however in general medication is used to open the neck of the womb (cervix) and stimulate labour contractions.

Most women will be offered a plastic cannula in a vein for safety so that fluid and medication can be given rapidly if required and you are entitled to receive any of the usual methods of pain relief available for labouring women.

Please discuss your specific situation with your caregiver.

What can I expect?

You can expect to be treated with dignity and respect, have procedures and medications explained and in general your baby will be born within 24 hours. You can expect to see your baby as much or as little as you wish. You can also expect not to leave the hospital until you feel ready to do so and for medical staff, midwifery staff and social workers to all visit with you to ensure all is in order.

You can also expect to leave hospital with mementos you choose, and if you do not choose to take them with you, for them to be kept in your file in case you change your mind later. You will also have a clear follow-up plan and medical staff on the ward will contact your GP to inform them of your loss and contact details if you have any questions or need help post going home.

What are the legal aspects?

Babies who are lost before 20 weeks are eligible for a commemoration certificate from the office of births, deaths and marriages (BDM).

For more information about obtaining an Early pregnancy loss commemorative certificate, please visit the BDM website.

After 20 weeks, you will need to register the birth of your baby with BDM. The hospital will also assist you in registering the death. You may be eligible to access Centrelink allowances for new parents and maternity leave – our social work team will help guide you through these aspects. You will also be helped to choose a funeral director and consider funeral wishes for your baby.

Support groups

There are several excellent support groups available for you and your family – to find out more, please visit our Health Information section.

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