Coping With Breastmilk After the Death of your Baby
Most mothers who deliver a baby over 20 weeks gestation will produce breast milk. It may take up to 10 days for breast milk to fully come in. This can be emotionally and physically painful. Physically, you may experience breast engorgement when your milk comes in. The following comfort measures may help relieve the physical discomforts from breast engorgement:
Take a hot shower and a small amount of milk generally leaks out, providing some relief. You may also manually express milk until pressure is relieved
Place ice packs or cold cabbage leaves on the breasts
Take Ibuprofen as directed for pain
Wear a well fitting bra or sports bra
If these comfort measures do not work, you may choose to pump periodically
to reduce pressure. If you have an abundant milk supply already, you should periodically reduce the amount of time you spend pumping and lengthen the intervals between pumping sessions to gradually reduce milk supply and prevent engorgement.
Some mothers choose to continue to keep a milk supply up and donate it in honor of their baby. The Milk Bank is an organization that accepts breast milk donations and provides it to premature infants. Milk in any amount can be donated in your babies honor. You can contact them at themilkbank.org or call (317) 536-1670.
Suggestions from a Grieving Parent
I can only provide suggestions for you based on my own personal experience and the suggestions that were given to me. There are some decisions regarding autopsy, burial and cremation that are personal decisions that I cannot provide any insight on. I pray that you will have a peace with these and choose what is best for your family.
Hold your baby. Kiss your baby. Talk to your baby. These precious hours or days in the hospital are all that you will have. We sang a song to our daughter, but I wish we had read a book to her so there was yet another memory I had to cherish and remember her by.
Too many mementos of your baby is impossible. Create as many special moments as you can. Put her in an outfit that you can take home and keep. Take as many footprints and handprints as you can. Many of the hospitals have small rings included in their infant loss packets that you can put on your baby’s finger and then take home. Take impressions or molds of hands and feet.
Today pictures may not feel right, but in many months or years, these will likely be cherished. I find myself reflecting at least once a week on these beautiful photos that were taken of our family and our precious daughter.
A memorial service for your baby does not have to be done this week or next week or even this month. You can take your time planning what you would like, but I do feel that this can help you heal and provide some closure. Personally, we wanted the service to be done as soon as possible. It felt like we could not start the real grieving until it was done. But many families I know never had services, or waited several months to do it to ensure that it was perfectly planned and included everyone they wanted there. A service does not have to be a traditional service with a viewing at the funeral home or at a church or even at the graveside. You can make the memorial service what you want it to be. Maybe in a few months you can plant a tree and invite family or friends over as you plant the tree in honor of your baby. The options are endless but take your time making this decision.
Think about things you may want to send with your baby whether through burial or cremation. Personally, I wrapped our daughter in my wedding veil, placed a letter I wrote to her in her casket, and made identical charm bracelets, one for me and one for her.
Ideas to Honor & Remember Your Baby
Create a Memory Box: Place all of your mementos in this box; everything from the hospital, baby’s hospital band, footprints, ultrasound pictures, pregnancy test if you still have it. Be sure to save cards and notes from family and friends.
Dry Flowers from Bouquets or Memorial Service: I kept so many flowers and made Christmas ornaments, put them in a shadow box, and a mason jar to use as decoration in my home.
Keep a Journal: Write down your experiences. This makes it easy to look back and see how far you’ve come in your grief journey on those days that you just feel like you’re stuck. It may also be beneficial to someone in the future to read.
Plant Flowers or a Tree in Your Baby’s Honor: This is a great way to have a daily reminder of your baby that is beautifully blossoming in your yard. This may also be a non-traditional way to hold a memorial service if you should choose.
Pick a Color or Thing to Remember Your Baby: Pick out a color that you associate with your baby or an animal or thing, like a butterfly. We chose to pain a room on our home with the color we associate with Rowan and that is Rowan’s room. If you choose an animal you can collect remembrance items of that animal. People also find comfort in seeing these creatures when they’re out and about & not expecting it.
Robin’s Loving Touch
Provides jewelry with your loved ones fingerprint www.robinslovingtouch.com
Contact: Robin 260-437-4114 firstname.lastname@example.org
Provide bears that weigh the same as your baby www.mollybears.com
No Footprint Too Small
Provide weighted bears and care packages to families that have experienced the loss of a baby
Create jewelry pieces that include breast milk, locks of hair, and other items to remember your baby.
Provides free tree planting with a memorial plaque to remember your lost loved one www.p52website.come
These are just a few ideas, there are countless jewelry and other memorial items you can find online and Etsy at etsy.com