Archive for Monday, February 23, 2004

LMH program helps parents grieve

February 23, 2004

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A stillbirth program at Lawrence Memorial Hospital calls for several steps to be taken to allow parents to grieve and remember their child.

"When a baby is stillborn, the parents have a very, very short time to make a lifetime of memories," said Isabel Schmedemann, a registered nurse and maternal child director at LMH.

The hospital prepares a "memory box" for the mother, Schmedemann said. It includes hand and footprints of the baby, hair and bereavement photos, she said.

"We try to keep as many keepsakes as we can for the parents," Schmedemann said.

The photographs are processed by a private company for confidentiality purposes, she said. The hospital is in the process of getting its own equipment to process digital photos.

Some parents don't want the memory box because of their grief, Schmedemann said. Yet many of those parents change their minds a few months later and call the hospital to see if the box is still available. The hospital usually keeps the memory box for at least six months in case parents change their minds, she said.

During the year after a stillbirth, LMH sends cards to the parents on Father's Day and Mother's Day and other special occasions such as Christmas.

"It's just to let them know we're thinking about them," Schmedemann said.

There are about a dozen stillbirths a year at LMH, Schmedemann said. Last year the hospital delivered about 1,100 babies, she said.

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