Can Naming Your Baby Help Cope With Miscarriage?

baby pillow embroidered with name
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As a part of coping with miscarriage or stillbirth, some grieving parents find that it helps to give the baby a name as a way of memorializing what has been lost. Others choose not to pick a name, especially if the miscarriage happened early in the pregnancy before the gender could be determined. They may feel that giving the baby a name makes the loss feel more real, or they may simply feel strange naming a baby who was never born.

Whatever your preference on whether or not to name the baby you lost, you should do what feels right for you—there is not one correct path for everyone.

Factors to Consider

If you do choose to name your baby, here are some things to consider:

  • Consider a gender-neutral name if the pregnancy loss occurred before it was possible to determine your baby's gender, or if you had a feeling one way or the other about the baby's gender, you can feel free give your baby a name suited to that gender. Remember, there are no wrong moves here, you should do what feels right for you and your partner.
  • Consider using a name that you love but which you would not use for a future baby, such as one that honors an older relative, or a relative who has passed away. Having a positive association like that with a name you bestow on your miscarriage or stillbirth may prove helpful for you emotionally in the long run. 
  • If you had a name already selected for the baby-to-be, you might consider using that name. Some parents may choose to keep the name they originally had in the event they become pregnant again, but that could also conjure up sad memories of the miscarriage. 
  • Pregnant women often refer to the fetus they're carrying by a nickname; maybe you referred to your pregnancy as Jellybean or Peanut. It's okay to keep those names unless it feels too painful. 
  • Use a word that is meaningful to you even if it isn't technically a name. The name for your miscarried baby is not likely to be used by anyone except you and your partner, so it's a decision you can make without seeking others' input.

What Is Right Is Best for You

However you decide to memorialize your loss, it will be the right decision for you. Don't feel pressured to do anything that feels too painful, and don't let anyone talk you out of doing something that feels right for you and your partner.

There really are no rules about how anyone should grieve this kind of loss or any loss for that matter, so give yourself space and time to decide what works. Even if you don't decide to name your miscarried or stillborn baby right away, if you want to choose a name later on, that's up to you.

Other Options

There is a wide range of ways in which you can remember your baby. Some people choose not to do anything visible and prefer to grieve in their heart alone, whereas others find it helpful to have a visible way to memorialize their baby's life.

Who doesn't love flowers? There is something about flowers which are comforting after a loss. Perhaps because they are such a vivid reminder of the circle of life, and remind us of re-birth. Here are some ideas for planting a memorial garden for your baby in a beautiful way.

Coping With Pregnancy Loss

Just as it will vary from one person to another as to whether you should name your baby or memorialize her life in another way, there is no right way to grieve.

Unfortunately, grief after a miscarriage or stillbirth can be overshadowed by the clinical aspects of care in the hospital. If your physician does not bring up your grief and pain, it does not mean that you are overreacting to how you feel.

Having a miscarriage may lead to both depression and anxiety disorders. If you are finding it difficult to cope, it is very important to talk to your doctor. It is not a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of strength to seek out help in coping with this very significant loss in your life.

Other Concerns

In addition to decisions about memorializing your baby and coping with your own loss, there are often other concerns which arise. For example, what are some age-appropriate ways to explain miscarriage and pregnancy loss to children? Finally, a very difficult question is should you plan a funeral after a miscarriage? Again, there are no right or wrong answers here, just want feels best to you and your family.

8 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Schroedel, J. Naming the Child: Hope Filled Reflections on Miscarriage, Stillbirth and Infant Death. United States: Paraclete Press; 2009.

  2. Sands Stillbirth & neonatal death charity. Long ago bereaved.

  3. American Pregnancy Association. After a Miscarriage: Surviving Emotionally.

  4. Barr S. Independent. Pickle, Squishy and Tadpole: The Most Common Nicknames Parents-to-Be Call Mother’s Baby Bump.

  5. Rochman B. TIME. Women Grieve Miscarriage for Years, Even After Having a Healthy Baby.

  6. Jena H. What to Expect. 11 Women on How They Honor Lost Pregnancies.

  7. Markin R. What Clinicians Miss About Miscarriages: Clinical Errors in the Treatment of Early Term Perinatal Loss. Psychotherapy. 2016. 53(3):347-53. doi:10.1037/pst0000062

  8. Nynas J, Narang P, Kolikonda MK, Lippmann S. Depression and Anxiety Following Early Pregnancy Loss: Recommendations for Primary Care Providers. Prim Care Companion CNS Disord. 2015;17(1). doi:10.4088/PCC.14r01721

Additional Reading

By Krissi Danielsson
Krissi Danielsson, MD is a doctor of family medicine and an advocate for those who have experienced miscarriage.