There are many ways to say goodbye to your baby. A bereavement doula can offer many suggestions while encouraging parents to incorporate their own cultural beliefs, values, and spiritual preferences to create a meaningful experience. Every state has different rules, and our recommendations are based on the practices in Pennsylvania.
We encourage parents to contact their local funeral director. They make the process of filing paperwork, transporting the body, and navigating interment procedures much easier. Most will offer their services for free and offer a fair price for items such as caskets and plot markers. Requests may be made for funeral directors to come directly to the hospital room instead of relinquishing baby to the morgue. Pittsburgh Bereavement Doulas can provide a car seat to aid in transport.
It is common practice for crematoriums to offer cremation for free for babies. However, depending on gestational age, the remains returned can be a teaspoon or even less. Parents can choose to keep their remains or bury privately in a purchased cemetery lot/mausoleum, or in a special lot designated for babies that some cemeteries offer.
Many parents choose to finalize their goodbye through:
Yes, it is legal and possible to bring baby home. Parents can leave the hospital with their baby and transport the baby in their own vehicle to their home and to the funeral home/crematory. This is one thing parents can control, and it can alleviate regret, and allow for the expression of parenting skills such as nurturing, protecting, and socializing their baby. Taking time to mourn at their own pace helps move towards healing. We can facilitate this through the connections we have established with funeral directors, as paperwork needs to be filed. You could invite your own religious/spiritual celebrant or we can refer a non-denominational home funeral celebrant.
Some parents may choose to cool their baby in order to slow the natural body changes after death. However, a deceased baby does not need to be cooled in order to stay with parents for an extended amount of time. After death, most parents want to continue contact with their baby through holding and cuddling, introducing them to their family and making memories. Many hospitals offer some configuration of Cuddle Cots or Caring Cradle so that parents can spend more time, even days, with their baby that has passed away.
It is not essential, but slowing the deterioration is another way of supporting families after the loss of a baby, allowing extra time together in the hospital, slowing down the necessity to make decisions quickly and allowing families the chance to take their baby home to grieve in their own way.
If you choose to take your baby home, we can assist with using a dry ice method for cooling.
Read here to see how a local Pittsburgh family chose a home funeral to celebrate their child.
"We all must part sometime, be it in death or with time, but no matter what our time together continues as long as one or the other is alive to remember."
– E.Z. Michaels