Stillbirth: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

The loss of a baby is devastating and very hard to accept. You may wonder why it happened or blame yourself. But a stillbirth can happen even in a pregnancy that has been going well.

In the weeks to come, try to take care of yourself physically and emotionally.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

Taking care of your body

  • Use pads instead of tampons for the bloody flow that may last as long as 2 weeks.
  • Ease cramps with ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin).
  • Ease soreness of hemorrhoids and the area between your vagina and rectum with ice compresses or witch hazel pads.
  • Ease constipation by drinking lots of fluid and eating high-fibre foods. Ask your doctor about over-the-counter stool softeners.
  • Cleanse yourself with a gentle squeeze of warm water from a bottle instead of wiping with toilet paper.
  • Take a sitz bath in warm water several times a day.
  • Wait until you are healed (about 4 to 6 weeks) before you have sexual intercourse. Your doctor will tell you when it is okay to have sex.
  • Getting regular exercise, as soon as you are able, may help you feel better.

Dealing with your grief

  • Rest whenever you can. Being tired makes it harder to handle your emotions.
  • Tell your family and friends what they can do. You may want to spend time alone, or you may seek the comfort of family and friends.
  • Try to eat healthy foods, get some sleep, and get exercise (or just get out of the house) to help you feel strong as you heal.
  • Talk to your doctor about how you are coping. He or she will want to watch you for signs of depression. You may want to have counselling for support and to help you express your feelings.
  • It may help to create a memory book of your pregnancy and baby. Many parents name their baby and want to take pictures and keep a lock of hair. The hospital may take photographs or footprints for you. Some parents have a ceremony, such as a christening or other blessing or a funeral service.
  • You also may want to talk to others who have gone through this loss. You can make connections online or in person:
    • The Compassionate Friends of Canada is a resource for people who have lost a child. The group can help put you in touch with one of its support groups in your area. The website is
    • Bereaved Families of Ontario is a resource for people who have lost a child or other family member. The group can help put you in touch with one of its support groups in your area. The website includes links to other groups similar to Bereaved Families of Ontario throughout Canada. The website is
    • Share (Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support, Inc.) also can offer advice and connections to others who have lost a child. The group's website is

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You have sudden, severe pain in your belly.
  • You passed out (lost consciousness).

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have severe vaginal bleeding. This means that you are soaking through a pad each hour for 2 or more hours.
  • You have a fever.
  • You have new or more belly pain.
  • You are dizzy or light-headed, or you feel like you may faint.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You feel sad, anxious, or hopeless for more than a few days.
  • You have new or worse vaginal discharge.
  • Your vaginal bleeding isn't decreasing.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

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Current as of: May 30, 2016