October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month in the United States and many other places around the world. Pregnancy and infant loss knows impacts families from every corner of the earth. Families whose babies are born too soon, or pass away shortly after birth are just as loved and wanted as any other child. In this situation, families need to say hello and goodbye, often at the same time.
Grieving the loss of a child, while painful, is a required part of the healing process. There is never any “getting over” the death of a child, but there is moving through different stages and ways of feeling — the cycles of intensity ebbing and flowing as they do.
In the hours and days after death, many parents find it comforting and healing to spend as much time as possible with their child’s body. In fact, research has found that when parents are able to spend time and hold their babies for an extended length of time after death, they experience more positive emotional and psychological benefits. (Source)
A few years ago, the CuddleCot, a product developed by Flexmort, a company located in the United Kingdom, was introduced in order to give families the gift of time with a baby who had passed prior to or shortly after birth. This discreet cooling system nestles into a bassinet or basket and creates a suitable location where a baby who has passed away can be placed, in order to remain in the hospital room or home of the grieving family.
The cooling system helps slow down the bodily deterioration of a baby who has passed. It allows families to have their baby near them, and keep them close as they recover from the birth. They can pick up and hold their baby as often as they want, and then place them back in the CuddleCot which is kept in their room. Siblings, families and friends can visit and also meet the baby and support the family with less of a sense of urgency.
It is also possible to utilize the CuddleCot at home, if the family chooses to bring their baby home and say goodbye in that environment.
The CuddleCot helps grieving parents in hospital, and also can be used for a period of time at home after the hospital stay. The traditional separation of parents and baby after death, when baby is taken for preparation for burial, can be very distressing to grieving parents. Research found parents reported that it “felt unnatural to leave their baby and of difficulty in going home empty-handed. Leaving the baby behind in hospital can contradict the parental biological instinct to care for and protect the offspring.” (Source)
You can more about the CuddleCot on their website. It is my sincere hope that anyone reading this will never have the need for one, but even your brief knowledge of the device may one day help a family in need. Not all hospitals in the United States have a CuddleCot at this time, but its availability and use are growing. Many organizations and individuals have organized fundraisers in order to purchase a CuddleCot unit for their local hospital.