CuddleCot helps grieving families

The CuddleCot combined with support group services is helping families grieve the loss of a baby.

RAPID CITY, S.D. – Oct. 15 is observed as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. A family who knows the pain of a loss donated a new addition to Regional Health Rapid City Hospital that is helping families grieve.

Dealing with the death of a baby is an incredibly difficult event for parents. Bereaved parents can now be given the option of spending time with their baby after death.

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 baby that has died.

Nan Fitzgerald, NICU nurse manager with RCRH, says “The CuddleCot has a cooling element underneath it that helps maintain a lower temperature of the baby body and that way it helps protect skin integrity of the baby. There’s also a piece that the parents can use to pick up the baby and hold it while it is still is being cool, so they can keep their baby with them if they want to for a day or whatever, as much time as they want, after the baby passes away.”

Funds for CuddleCot came from the memorial fund of Mae Donnenwirth. Mae spent most her life in Rapid City and had a stillborn child. Her granddaughter, Jaci Garreans, said five members of Mae’s family have lost babies. Jaci was the only one who was able to grieve with the CuddleCot. She did so in Omaha.

Jaci says, “So the cuddle can give you that piece of mind and the opportunity to spend quality time with your family and come to terms with what’s happening. It allowed me to hold my daughter IdaMae and to feel that sense that she was mine even if it was only for a brief moment – she was mine.”

Evidence shows that grieving families can benefit from spending time with their baby after death.

Fitzgerald says, “It’s really the unknown that makes things worse and the unfinished business of not allowing families to have time with that baby before they are ready to say goodbye.”

Regional Health Nurse and Lactation Consultant, Melissa Rineard and her husband endured the loss of their child Christian James at 14 months old and now helps others going through loss. They facilitate a support group through Regional Health for families who have lost a child from a miscarriage to teen years.

Melissa says the CuddleCot will help families with healing. “I am so thankful for this family that donated this CuddleCot for personal reasons. My son did die 15 years ago, and I can remember when he did pass – the thought of him going to a morgue I just couldn’t bear the thought, so I held him for about eight hours … What a fabulous device so mothers can keep their babies with them for as long as they want … I think it’s going to be a wonderful addition to our hospital.”

Regional Health’s Home Care and Hospice of the Hills program is providing free monthly grief education and support groups in Rapid City. Pre-registration is required by calling 605-755-7726.

Categories: Local News