Can Naming Your Baby Help Cope with Miscarriage?

Can a Name Help Memorialize the Child You Miscarried?

miscarried baby name on pillow
Should you name a baby you lost to miscarriage?. Lumi Images/Dario Secen/Collection Mix: Subjects/Getty Images

Should You Name the Baby after a Miscarriage or Stillbirth?

As a part of coping with miscarriage or stillbirth, some grieving parents find that it helps to give the baby a name as a way of memorializing what has been lost. Others choose not to pick a name, especially if the miscarriage happened early in the pregnancy before the gender could be determined. They may feel that giving the baby a name makes the loss feel more real, or they may simply feel strange naming a baby who was never born.

 

Whatever your preference, you should do what feels right for you and there is not one correct path for everyone.

Factors to Consider in Naming the Baby You Lost

If you do choose to name your baby, here are some things to consider:

  • Pregnant women often refer to the fetus they're carrying by a nickname; maybe you referred to your pregnancy as Jellybean or Peanut. It's okay to keep those names unless it feels too painful. 
  • If you had a name already selected for the baby-to-be, you might consider using that name. Many parents opt to keep the name they had in the event they become pregnant again, but it may conjure up sad memories of the miscarriage. 
  • Consider using a name that you love but which you would not use for a future baby, such as one that honors an older relative, or a relative who has passed away. Having a positive association like that with a name you bestow on your miscarriage or stillbirth may prove helpful in the long run. 
  • Use a word that is meaningful to you even if it isn't technically a name. The name for your miscarried baby is not likely to be used by anyone except you and your partner, so it's a decision you can make without seeking others' input.
  • Consider a gender neutral name if the pregnancy loss occurred before it was possible to determine your baby's gender, or if you had a feeling one way or the other about the baby's gender, you can feel free give your baby a name suited to that gender. Remember, there are no wrong moves here, you should do what feels right to you and your partner.

    What is Right is What is Right for You Alone

    However you decide to memorialize your loss, it will be the right decision for you. Don't feel pressured to do anything that feels too painful, and don't let anyone talk you out of doing something that feels right for you and your partner.

    There really are no rules about how anyone should grieve this kind of loss or any loss for that matter, so give yourself the space and time to decide what works. Even if you don't decide to name your miscarried or stillborn baby right away, if you want to choose a name later on, that's up to you.

    Other Ways to Memorialize a Baby You Lost

    There is a wide range of ways in which you can remember your baby. Some people choose not to do anything visible, and prefer to grieve in their heart alone, whereas others find it helpful to have a visible way to memorialize their baby's life.

    Who doesn't love flowers? There is something about flowers which are comforting after a loss. Perhaps because they are such a vivid reminder of the circle of life, and remind us of re-birth.

    Here are some ideas for planting a memorial garden for your baby in a beautiful way.

    Coping with Pregnancy Loss

    Just as it will vary from one person to another as to whether you should name you baby or memorialize her life in another way, there is no right way to grieve.

    Unfortunately, grief after a miscarriage or stillbirth is often overshadowed by the clinical aspects of care in the hospital. If your physician does not bring up your grief and pain, it does not mean that you are overreacting in how you feel. Modern Western medicine has done a disservice to women in some ways in its focus on the physical aspects of care.

    Having a miscarriage may lead to both depression and anxiety disorders. If you are finding it difficult to cope, it is very important to talk to your doctor. It is not a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of strength to seek out help in coping with this very significant loss in your life.

    Learn more about coping with miscarriage or recovering from stillbirth,

    Other Concerns After Pregnancy Loss

    In addition to decisions about memorializing your baby and coping with your own loss, there are often other concerns which arise. For example, what are some age-appropriate ways to explain miscarriage and pregnancy loss to children?

    Finally, a very difficult question is should you plan a funeral after a miscarriage?

    Sources:

    Markin, R. What Clinicians Miss About Miscarriages: Clinical Errors in the Treatment of Early Term Perinatal Loss. Psychotherapy. 2016. 53(3):347-53.

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