RAPID CITY, S.D. (Oct. 16, 2018) – With a donation from a Rapid City family’s memorial fund, the Regional Health Foundation has purchased a CuddleCot, which allows families to spend time with — and bond with — a stillborn child or a baby that has died in the first weeks of life.
The CuddleCot preserves the child, so families can use the time to grieve, work through their emotions and say goodbye to the baby. Although some might find the idea unusual, there is a lot of evidence that grieving families can benefit tremendously from spending time with their baby after death.
“After childbirth, parents are psychologically and biologically primed to bond with and nurture their newborn. Even after a death, parents wanting to be with their baby is a natural expression of their postpartum drives and parental devotion,” wrote Psychologist Deborah L. Davis in a 2014 article in Psychology Today.
Funds for the CuddleCot came from the Mae Donnenwirth Memorial Fund. Mrs. Donnenwirth, who spent most of her life in Rapid City, passed away Nov. 28, 2017, at age 94. Her granddaughter, Jaci Garreans of Omaha, said five members of Mae’s family – Mae herself, her daughter Joan, and three of Mae’s grandchildren – all lost babies. Jaci was the only one who was able to grieve with the help of a CuddleCot.
For two days, Jaci and her family spent time with their baby, Ida Mae. Her husband could hold her, and their other children could say goodbye and make sense of what happened. For young children, she said, it is difficult to understand the loss of a baby after the excitement of pregnancy and the talk of little sisters and brothers.
“Mae knew the pain of losing a baby, and when her granddaughter was able to use this device to grieve for her own lost child, Mae thought it was wonderful,” the family wrote in her obituary.
Regional Health is an integrated health care system with the purpose of helping patients and communities live well. The organization, headquartered in Rapid City, provides community-based health care covering 32 specialty areas of medicine in more than 20 communities in two states. Regional Health is comprised of five hospitals, 25 clinics and more than 5,000 physicians and caregivers. Regional Health hospitals in Rapid City, Spearfish and Sturgis have been rated as four-star hospitals by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. For more information, visit regionalhealth.org.
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