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A Device That Gives Parents of Stillborn Babies Time to Say Goodbye

Category: Health & Fitness,Lifestyle

CuddleCot donations provide “a way for families to do something good out of the tragedy that happened to them,” said Dr. Tracy Arghavani, obstetrician-gynecologist at Northwestern Medicine Huntley Hospital.

Mrs. Fricker said some 400 to 500 hospitals in this country have CuddleCots available, “most donated by families like ours.” And last August, St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany received a Cuddle Cot donated by Kristin McVeigh-Parente, president, and David Parente, vice president, of the McVeigh Funeral Home in Albany after they were told of the need by the March of Dimes.

The CuddleCot was invented in Britain, where 10 babies are stillborn every day. According to the manufacturer, Flexmort, 92 percent of hospitals in Britain have at least one CuddleCot. The 8-pound device is basically a small crib or bassinet with a refrigerated unit under a mattress. The cold slows the deterioration of body tissues to preserve deceased babies and keep them looking as good as possible.

Without such a unit, soon after the delivery babies that die are placed in the hospital’s morgue, giving grieving parents limited access. Parents are often told they wouldn’t want to see their babies, creating the impression that the babies look monstrous or awful. But those kept in a CuddleCot look as if they’re sleeping.

In addition to creating memories of their babies, albeit limited ones, the refrigerated cot can give grieving parents more time to come to terms with their loss and gain closure.

“When women find out that they’re pregnant, they immediately begin making plans for the baby,” Dr. Arghavani said. “When they lose that baby, it’s like someone stole their dreams. The loss of an unborn child can be just as heart-wrenching as the loss of a born child.”

When a baby dies before birth, the woman has to go through labor and delivery just as in a viable pregnancy. In such cases, Dr. Arghavani said, “women are often afraid — they’re not quite sure they want to hold the baby. The CuddleCot enables the baby to stay in the room and gives them the opportunity to take the time they need to make a decision.”

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