The perinatal period lasts from conception through about 6 weeks after the baby is born. And one in 200 children die during the perinatal period. This is often seen as miscarriages, deaths from congenital disorders, SIDS, stillbirth, medical termination, and more. Parents of these babies are no less parents than those whose babies grow into adulthood. There are ways to help them with their grief.
Encourage them to talk about it. Many times, parents feel isolated because no one wants to bring it up. They are not sure how you may feel, so they don't ask for help. There are even times when they don't talk about with each other. The grieving parent will tell you if they are not ready to talk, but will appreciate your thoughtfulness.
Do not ignore the fact that the baby ever existed. This is very common with miscarriages. Friends who have never been through that tragedy often think that the parents were not that attached. This is very wrong, and especially not true for mothers, who have carried that soul inside themselves.
Don't say that they will have another to replace the one that died. Could another child replace any of your children? Another child may eventually bring more happiness back into their lives, but will never erase the memory of the one who is not with them.
Encourage them to join a support group for perinatal loss. There are many support groups for perinatal loss around the country. Maybe do the research for them and take them to the first meeting. If you have never lost a baby, you cannot understand how they feel. The folks at these groups do know how they feel and can help them in ways you cannot. There are many online sites that can aid them in recovery also.
Send a card at the time of the loss. It will mean a great deal to them. You might also remember to send a "thinking of you" kind of card on the anniversary of the death. Trust me, they will be thinking about it and will appreciate it if you acknowledge that.
Allow them to express whatever emotions they are feeling at the time of the death and later. They will feel anger, sadness, grief, fury, everything you can imagine. Give them a safe haven to express themselves.
Think about it before you give advice. That may not be what they need at the time. Sometimes just a hug or "I'm sorry" is the best thing you can say or do.
Use the baby's name when you refer to him or her. This was a child who arrival was anticipated with joy. This was a person who lived and died. Do not diminish that fact by referring to the baby as "it" or "the fetus."
If you have loved ones who have lost a child during the perinatal period, do not make it the "hidden loss" or "unspeakable loss." Be there for them, but also give them their space. Respect their wishes and just be available. They will need you at some point. The steps outlined here can help you help them.