If someone close to you has suffered a miscarriage or stillbirth, it's kind of you to be thinking about a supportive gift. Many grieving parents appreciate it when the pregnancy loss is acknowledged by people close to them. But it's important to be aware that emotions can run high after such a loss, and sometimes gestures made out of a desire to be helpful can be interpreted in an unintended way. Sympathy cards or other standard miscarriage gifts are usually a good bet, but as you are contemplating gifts, try to steer clear of the following items unless you know for a fact that your loved one would appreciate them.
Although the idea of giving a reborn doll (a lifelike doll that closely resembles a newborn baby) may sound thoughtful, especially as a gift for someone who suffered a stillbirth, you must tread lightly. There are women out there who find reborn dolls to be a comfort when coping with pregnancy loss, but others may find such a gift to be a disturbing reminder of what was lost. Never make an assumption even for someone you are close to -- only consider giving a reborn doll if you have specifically spoken to the grieving mother about it first, and never as a surprise gift.
As with a reborn doll, there are many women out there who would appreciate the gift of a teddy bear as something to hold and to look at as a reminder of the baby. However, not everyone wants such a reminder, and some women may feel that when they are longing to hold the baby they lost, a teddy bear is a poor substitute. Because the specific person's response is unpredictable, don't get one for your grieving friend or relative unless you have talked to her about it.
Items with Images of Babies
Many women who have suffered a pregnancy loss find it emotionally painful to be around babies, and oftentimes even looking at a picture of a baby can lead to tears. There are always exceptions, but to be on the safe side, steer clear of giving gifts that have clear images of newborn infants or young children.
Baby Care Items
Even if you know that your grieving friend or relative plans to try to get pregnant again, don't give baby items as a gift to someone who has recently had a pregnancy loss. In theory, such gifts might seem like a statement of hope that will get the couple looking forward to a happier ending for the next pregnancy, but it's impossible to predict the future. You don't know if they will miscarry again or have fertility problems, and if they do, they're not going to want baby toys or care items sitting around. Save baby-related gifts for the future baby shower.
"How To" Books on Pregnancy
Books on coping with a miscarriage are acceptable gifts if you are sure that the book is well written and sensitive (such as if it is a book you read and appreciated after your own miscarriage), but stay away from giving books that are guides on how to have a healthy pregnancy. Even if it's not your intent, such books might make the grieving mother feel like you're implying she did something wrong to cause her loss and now needs instructions for pregnancy.
Plants (Unless You Know the Person Has a Green Thumb)
Plants can be an excellent gift -- if the person receiving them has no trouble keeping them alive. However, for someone who isn't good with plants, it can be hard to watch a houseplant die when it was given as a comfort gift after losing a baby. If you want to give a plant as a gift and don't know whether the intended recipient has a green thumb, choose an extremely hardy plant with low maintenance needs that is known to be good for people who have trouble keeping houseplants alive.