Your sleeping baby and the first 24 hours

Planning your baby’s farewellThere is nothing that prepares you for a silent birth and there is nothing that prepares you for going home without your baby. I often refer to the moment that Sophie was born as a deafening silence, and I know that this is a contradiction in terms. So I thought I would write a series of blog posts, not to upset people, but to explain what happens during a silent birth, why the silence is deafening, and what happens after the birth. This is just my experience, and other people’s experience may be different… I would like to hear other experiences so please write a comment or send me an email if you wish.

In the series are:

Your sleeping baby and the first 24 hours

How will my baby feel?

This may be different for everyone and would depend on many things (the gestational age, how long since they grew their wings, whether they passed before or after delivery etc) Sophie felt warm to me when she was born but started to go cold very quickly and I remember being surprised because I wasn’t expecting her to be warm and ‘fresh looking’, however, Paul thinks I imagined this as he says she was cold from the start… so maybe that was my way of holding on to hope for a bit longer. She felt just like any other baby while I was cuddling her but the thing that sticks in my mind was her limpness, and especially her neck. I was so surprised that if she wasn’t picked up correctly then her neck would literally ‘fold up’… by this I mean it was as if there were no bones or muscles that gave any resistance at all. But apart from that she was just like any other baby to hold, except the obvious that she gave nothing back… no little squirms, no eyes opening, no windy smiles. But even still, I spent hours cuddling her and admiring how beautiful she was.

This bit comes with a warning because it is medical and may not be something that you will be able to read. So please stop if it upsets you.

Worried about rigor mortis?

This is a horrible subject but it’s something that I was secretly really worried about, which is why I’m including it. Typically, rigor mortis sets in 2 – 6 hours after death and lasts for 12 – 48 hours before the body starts to soften again. Rigor mortis is not seen in babies with a gestational period of under 7 months, and may not been seen at all… it really depends on the size of your baby. Once Sophie was born she never exhibited signs of rigor mortis and I think it happened before birth when I was at home; my uterus was ‘rock hard’ and Sophie was slumped at the bottom, to one side… it was very uncomfortable; this was the day before I was induced and I think this is when rigor mortis set in with Sophie. I am so thankful that she was soft and supple when we saw her. The chemical process of after death: the heart stops beating and blood collects in the most dependent parts of the body (livor mortis), the body stiffens (rigor mortis), and the body begins to cool (algor mortis) and then the body relaxes again.

6 thoughts on “Your sleeping baby and the first 24 hours

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