Saying good-bye: After delivery

Seeing and holding your baby

You are not required to see or hold your baby after he or she is born. However, your health care team will probably tell you very few people regret seeing or holding their baby, and most of us on the PROM list who have experienced a loss would agree. Seeing your baby plays an important role in saying good-bye and coming to terms with his or her loss. Whether or not you choose to see your baby immediately after delivery, most hospitals will allow you to see your baby at a later time. Ask your health care team how many days after your baby’s delivery you will be able to see him or her again.

If you decide to see and hold your baby, spend some time getting to know your child. Don’t feel rushed. You are entitled to take as much time as you need to say good-bye to your baby. Remember, this will be the only time that you will be together with your baby as a family.

  • Spend time looking at him or her. Look for family resemblances or unique characteristics.
  • Talk, sing to, and touch him or her.
  • If you have other children, talk with the nurses about the best way to introduce them to their sibling. It is reasonable for them to want to touch and hold the baby, and doing so will assist them in the grieving process.
  • Bathe and dress your baby, if appropriate.
  • If you would prefer to be left alone with your baby, ask the hospital staff to give you some privacy.
  • When you are ready, you can kiss your baby good-bye.

If you are uncertain about seeing your baby because you are worried or afraid about how your baby will look, ask your nurse to first describe your baby to you and tell you what to expect before you see him or her.

If you do not feel up to seeing your baby right away or if you know ahead of time that your medication will make you too groggy to remember, ask the nurse whether it will be possible to have your baby brought back to you later that day or before you are discharged from the hospital.


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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