Saying goodbye at St. Joe (Mishawaka, IN): what to expect when baby is born still

Here is some information about experiencing a stillbirth at St. Joseph Regional Medical Center in Mishawaka, Indiana. This information came from my personal correspondence with hospital representatives and was last updated June 2021.

Photo Courtesy of Saint Joseph Health System

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Standard Procedures:

The hospital representative with whom I spoke stressed that “Whatever the parents want, we will do.”

The hospital has a perinatal hospice program, which includes a perinatal outreach coordinator whom is contacted by doctors whenever there is a diagnosis that indicates that a loss is likely to occur. She walks with families in preparing a birth plan and contacts the staff nurses with the birth plan before delivery. The staff at St. Joe use specially colored folders outside birthing suites so that every staff member who interacts with a family is aware that the family is suffering a loss. 

Whether the loss is expected or not, the hospital chaplains are available to process with the families and help them find options for funeral homes.

If baby is expected not to survive birth, visitor restrictions are eased (even in the time of covid-19).

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Timing:

Families can take their time at the hospital and can spend as much time with their child as they would like. St. Joe does have CuddleCots, which are small cooled bassinets meant to help preserve the baby’s body longer so that family can spend more time with the body.

If baby was born through a c-section, the parent will stay at the hospital for two to three days.

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Mementos:

Which mementos are created as part of standard protocol seems to depend on the nurses, but families can ask for any mementos they would like. Some options include footprints, handprints, the measuring tape used to measure the baby, a small ring, or a lock of hair. Most nurses take pictures, which are then put in a box for the family to look at when they are ready.

It is standard protocol for the photography group associated with the hospital, Love You Baby, to come and provide portraits if they family would like.

The hospital is also associated with Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, which will provide backup photographers if the Love You Baby photographers are unavailable.

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For more information about experiencing a stillbirth at St. Joseph Regional Medical Center, contact the Mishawaka Family Birthplace at 574-335-4127.

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