Neonatal death - information and support

When a baby dies within the first 28 days of life this is called a ‘neonatal death’. Find out why some babies die, understand the grieving process and the practical things you might need to think about after the loss of a baby.

What does neonatal death mean?

If a baby dies within the first 28 days after they’re born, it is known as a neonatal death.

If a baby dies after 24 weeks of pregnancy, but before they’re born, it is known as a stillbirth. We have support and advice about stillbirth here.

Why do babies die?

After the loss of a baby, it is natural to want answers about why it happened.

Sometimes the answer is clear, and other times a doctor or coroner will need to run tests or do a post-mortem to find out what happened and why. Sometimes they may not be able to find out why.

Common causes of neonatal death

Most neonatal deaths are linked to premature birth, because when babies are born too soon or too small they are more at risk of infection and other serious health problems. However, there are reasons why a baby may not survive, even if they were born at full-term, including:

  • genetic disorders
  • complications during or after birth
  • infections.

Support after your baby dies

The loss of a baby is devastating. We’re here to offer emotional and practical support to parents and families who are going through this experience.

Emotional support for parents after neonatal loss

If you want to talk to a professional about how you’re feeling, our team of expert midwives are available via the Tommy’s advice line on 0800 0147 800, 9am-5pm. If you’re not ready to talk, we have some information that might help:

Coping with grief after your baby dies

Spending time with your baby

Supporting your partner after your baby dies

Emotional support for others after a baby dies

Family, friends and colleagues of those who lost a baby can find it difficult to know what to say or how to help, while also coping with their own grief. Here’s some advice that could help:

How to support a friend or family member after their baby dies

Support for grandparents if your grandchild dies

Supporting other children after their sibling dies

Practical support for parents who have lost a baby

As well as managing your emotions in the early days and weeks after loss, you will have decisions and arrangements to make. It is an overwhelming time, but hopefully this practical advice will help guide you through it:

Planning a funeral or ceremony for your baby

Your body after neonatal loss, including how you will recover after birth, when your milk will come in and what’s happening to your hormones

Your rights after your baby dies

Having a post-mortem for your baby

Registering your baby's birth and death

Pregnancy and parenting after neonatal loss

Pregnancy following the loss of a baby is likely to be an anxious time for both parents. You should have additional support from your healthcare team. Find out what to expect and how to take extra care of yourself:

Trying for another baby after neonatal loss

Pregnancy and parenting after neonatal loss

About Tommy’s

There is still a lack of research into the causes of pregnancy complications and loss, and that is why Tommy’s funds research into the causes of neonatal death, stillbirth, miscarriage and premature birth.

Read about other mums' stories of neonatal loss

Sources

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Last reviewed on October 4th, 2018. Next review date October 4th, 2021.

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