Establish your timeframe for delivery

Once you know that you will be delivering your baby and that he or she will not survive, take a few moments to decide how much time you need to prepare for delivery. The amount of time you need to prepare to deliver your baby is very personal and there is no right answer.

Even if you have been given the option to delay delivery, you may feel that you would like to deliver as soon as possible, particularly if you have small children at home.

Or, you may feel that you and your family would benefit from taking some time to adjust to the idea of a perinatal loss. You may also feel that there are some preparations and arrangements you would like to make to help say good-bye to your baby.

Discuss with your health care practitioner how much time is available for you to make decisions about your baby’s delivery. Your practitioner may not have given you the option to delay delivery, or may have presented immediate delivery as their preferred choice by saying something like “You might as well get this over with as soon as possible.” However, your doctor should be willing to accommodate you if you wish to delay delivery, as long as the amount of time you request does not create any danger to your health or safety.

Here are some considerations as you decide how much time you need to prepare to deliver your baby:

Personal considerations

There will be both practical and emotional preparations that you will need to make before you deliver your baby. From our experience, it is helpful to take as much time as you need to make decisions about delivery and other procedures, assemble people to support you, and gather the supplies you need to create lasting memories of your baby. Taking this time now will minimize any regrets you may have about acting hastily or missing out on important moments or mementos.

  • Review the information on this page to get an idea of the decisions you would like to make and things you would like to consider. For example, whether to make a birth or delivery plan, take photographs, and have a baptism or blessing.
  • Determine whether you need a few minutes, a few hours, a day, or longer to prepare yourself and your family for your baby’s delivery. If there are family members who will be coming from out of town for the delivery, factor in their travel time.

  • If there is a religious ceremony that you would like to have performed before or after your child is born, decide on this as early as possible so you can arrange for someone from your house of worship or someone from your faith to perform the ceremony. You should also find out who is “qualified” to perform the ceremony if someone from your faith is not available.


Medical considerations

Talk with your doctor about the amount of time you need to prepare, and whether there are any health or safety reasons that would make it advisable to deliver sooner. Don’t be afraid to voice your preferences about how long you would like to wait.

  • Ask whether you are showing immediate signs of infection or active labor, or are at risk for other pregnancy complications such as placental abruption.
  • Even if your doctor initially recommended that you deliver right away, if it is important to you to take more time, ask again if it is possible to take more time and how long you will have.
  • If you would like to leave the hospital and go home for a day or more before delivering, ask whether there are certain signs or symptoms to look for that would require you to return to the hospital to deliver sooner.
  • If you would like to go into labor naturally, ask whether you should remain in the hospital until labor begins, or whether you will be sent home to wait. If you will be going home to await the natural onset of labor, ask when you should return.


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Article by Kay Squires, with special thanks to Valerie, Holly, and Marion, and the members of the PROM mailing list
January 2005, updated July 2011