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Facing difficult decisions

The number of babies who die in the neonatal period (the first 28 days) has fallen markedly over the last decade, largely because of advances in medical knowledge and clinical care.  Unfortunately, it does still occasionally happen.

One of the hardest things about having a very sick baby is that no one can tell you exactly what to expect.  Your baby’s condition can change quickly and therefore treatment options can change rapidly as well.  Making the decision to limit or stop your baby’s intensive care is devastating and very few parents feel emotionally prepared to deal with this.

Staff will talk to you about the options which are available and their experience and knowledge in these matters is crucial.  All information and advice will be given with your baby’s best interests at heart and getting as many facts as possible will give you more confidence in reaching a decision.  The doctors and nurses will work with you at this time and you should never feel pressured into making a decision you do not agree with.

You don’t have to face this alone, you will be encouraged to talk to the people you are closest to – your partner, family and friends.  Many neonatal units have access to a counselling service or you may prefer some form of religious or spiritual advice – speak to the nursing staff and they will help to arrange this on your behalf.

Further support is available from the following sources:-




Sands supports anyone who has been affected by the death of a baby before, during or shortly after birth.  We offer emotional support and information for parents, grandparents, siblings, children, families and friends, health professionals and others.