Pocatello hospital helps families cope after stillborn births


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POCATELLO — Babies are a gift for many, but in moments of labor some mothers may experience the unexpected. On average, doctors at Portneuf Medical Center deliver 1,450 babies a year. In 2015, nine of those births were stillborn. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 percent of all pregnancies end in still births, and each year, about 24,000 babies are stillborn.

“Everyone thinks bringing home their perfect beautiful baby, and that doesn’t happen,” registered nurse Natalie Anderson at Portneuf Medical Center says. “It’s really hard to accept and a very emotional and difficult experience.”

On average, doctors at PMC deliver more than 1,400 babies a year. In 2016 doctors delivered seven stillborn babies.

“The mom’s in labor, so she’s in physical pain as well as the emotional pain she’s having,” said Anderson. “But I’m able to talk to her about things that maybe she can consider doing that she wouldn’t have thought of, as she wasn’t planning on this happening.”

Three years ago, Natalie Anderson was 36 weeks pregnant with her first child. Then doctors told her that her little girl, Blakelee, had no heartbeat.

“It was probably one of the worst moments of my life, I think of any mother’s life,” she says.

In the darkest moment for families like the Andersons, hospital volunteers are called in at any hour to capture a positive memory, one click at a time.

“I do remember almost every one of them. They do stick in your mind,” says photographer Michelle Headstrom.

No matter how chaotic the room might be, Headstrom adds, “It’s just a very special, peaceful spirit about those rooms. Those babies are there. They are there. I’m going to do my best to preserve their memories for their parents (because) that all they’re ever going to have. They don’t have a chance to go back.”

The Anderson family never found out why their daughter died. They have since had another child, a boy who turned 2 earlier this month.

This story first appeared on KPVI. It is used here with permission.

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