Sensitive Arrangements Following the Loss of a Baby – Information for Parents

  • Reference Number: HEY-923/2017
  • Departments: Maternity Services

Introduction

We are so sorry for your loss and recognise this must be an extremely difficult time for you. The purpose of this leaflet is to provide parents and families with the choices available to them with regard to a burial or cremation following a baby’s death, stillbirth or a pregnancy loss. This sadly maybe as a result of:

  • A miscarriage – when a pregnancy ends unexpectedly up to 23 weeks and 6 days and the baby shows no signs of life.
  • It may be that you have had to make a difficult decision to end your wanted pregnancy as a result of an anomaly.
  • A Stillbirth – when your baby has died from 24 weeks onwards, before the birth.
  • A Neonatal death – when your baby has died after the birth, before 28 days old.

We understand how extremely upsetting this time is for parents and their families, and we hope that this guidance will inform parents and families of the choices available to them. A member of the midwifery staff or the Bereavement Midwife can support you with further information if required.

The choices available to you are:

Shared cremation

The hospital can arrange for a cremation which is shared with other babies if your baby is born under 24 weeks. This is officiated by a hospital chaplain.  In these cases the cremation is authorised by the hospital, following your decision and consent. Your baby remains at the hospital in a safe and secure place up to a period of 12 weeks after the birth.  Details of the mother remain confidential and are not provided to the crematorium. The cremation is recorded by a reference number, to enable any future enquiries. Following the cremation there are no individual ashes, the joint ashes are scattered or buried in the Baby Cemetery at the Chanterlands Avenue Crematorium.  If you wish to know when your baby’s cremation will take place, please talk to the Midwife or the Bereavement Midwife. It is possible to view the location where ashes have been scattered and a memorial at the Chanterlands Avenue Crematorium can be arranged.

Individual cremation

You can organise a cremation yourself by contacting a funeral director of your choice or Hull Bereavement Services. You will require a medical certificate to authorise the cremation and confirm the pregnancy loss if under 24 weeks.  This is supplied by the Midwife at the hospital or from your local GP, if the loss of pregnancy has occurred at home. If your baby was stillborn, you will require a certificate to register the stillbirth before cremation. If your baby died following birth, you will need to register the death before the cremation can take place. The Bereavement Midwife can provide you with further support on the registration process.  Every effort will be made to recover ashes following a cremation, on rare occasions however (particularly with a cremation following early pregnancy loss) the recovery of ashes may not be possible. Your chosen funeral director will advise you further with regard to collection of ashes. The hospital is unable to contribute to the cost, however many funeral directors make a nominal charge or do not charge for their services in these situations. There may also be additional costs relating to the cremation – your chosen funeral director will be able to advise you on any necessary fees.

Individual burial

You can organise a burial but you will need to obtain the service of a funeral director of your choice or contact Hull Bereavement services to assist you. You are required to produce a medical certificate to authorise the burial and confirm the pregnancy loss if your baby was under 24 weeks gestation. This will be obtained from the Midwife at the hospital or from your local GP, if the loss of pregnancy has occurred at home. If your baby is over 24 weeks you will require a certificate to register the birth before any arrangements can be made. If your baby died following birth, you will need to register the birth and the death before the burial can take place. The Bereavement Midwife can provide you with further support on the registration process. The hospital is unable to contribute to the cost relating to burial; again your chosen funeral director will be able to advise you on any necessary fees.

Private Burial at Home/ Private land  

If you wish, you can take your baby home and arrange a burial on private land.  If you choose the option to arrange a private burial there is important information for you to consider:

  • The involvement of a local funeral director is advised
  • You will need to take your baby home in a suitable container as your baby may lose fluid
  • Once home your baby will need to be in cool, well ventilated room
  • Your baby’s appearance will change and may become a dark purple colour
  • Please ensure family pets are kept away from your baby
  • Following discharge home the midwife will inform the local police to avoid any misunderstanding.

Legal requirements for a private burial

If your baby was under 24 weeks of pregnancy:

  • There is no legal requirement to involve the registrar or coroner with a home burial unless your baby was born alive and died soon after birth.
  • Your baby must be in a sealed container with no risk of bodily fluid leaking into groundwater, surface water, water courses or adjoining land.
  • The container must be buried to a depth of at least 18 inches ( 45cm)
  • Think carefully about how you will feel if you choose to move house?

If your baby was 24 weeks and over;

 You will require the services of a funeral director to assist with the legal documentation that is required.

  • If you intend to have a burial on private land, discuss with your midwife or the Bereavement midwife as there are certificates that must be completed before you go home. The form for the release of your baby will be sent to the hospital mortuary and a copy will be kept in your notes.
  • Contact the Environment Health Department and the Environment Agency for advice with regard to the suitability of the burial site and the depth of the grave.
  • Further information can be obtained from Institute of Cemetery and Cremation Administration ICCM

If you wish to arrange a burial on private land the legal requirements are:

  • The burial does not cause danger to others
  • You obtain permission from the land owner if you do not own the land.
  • The burial must not interfere with any rights other people have on the land eg in the case of rented property.
  • If the land is in a conservation area the appropriate authority will need to be consulted.
  • Notification of the burial should be kept with the deeds of the property.
  • If the property is mortgaged, the company needs to be informed prior to the burial.
  • The burial may affect the resale of the property.

Religious Support

In all cases, the Midwives and staff will ensure that your cultural and religious beliefs are respected. You may wish to contact for support, a representative of your own religion, however the hospital does have a Chaplaincy team who can provide support to your family and you in hospital and at home. They can provide support for whichever service you choose for your baby. The contact details are below or the Midwife can contact the team on your behalf.

If you require an urgent cremation or burial due to religious beliefs, the Midwife or Bereavement Midwife will support you with this.

Summer and Christmas Candlelight Memorial Service

If you wish, you will be invited to a non-denomination service which is held twice a year, in the summer and Christmas.  It is open to all parents and their families in memory of their babies.  You may find it helpful to meet other parents and families who have suffered the loss of a baby.  

Useful Information

Parents on low incomes: Parents on low incomes may be eligible for support with a funeral payment via the Social Fund, depending on their circumstances. Further information is available via https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/funeral-payments

Listed are some helpful contacts for support:

  • Sue Cooper, Bereavement Midwife Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, Tel: 07990800223,  sue.cooper@hey.nhs.uk
  • The Hospital Chaplains: Tel: 01482 675966 chaplaincy.team@hey.nhs.uk
  • Sands (Stillbirth and neonatal death charity) National Charity with an active local support group, providing one to one support to bereaved parents and monthly meetings. Tel: 07979 856226 / 0808 164 3332 www.hull-sands.org.uk
  • Miscarriage Association: support for women who have suffered a miscarriage, Tel: 01924 200799 www.miscarriageassociation.org.uk
  • The Child Bereavement UK, resources for families who have lost a baby or child, including support with siblings. Tel: 01494 568900 support@childbereavementuk.org
  • The Compassionate Friends, A support network of bereaved parents.  Tel: 0345 120 8785 www.tcf.org.uk
  • Child Death Helpline, A helpline for anyone affected by the death of a child. Calls are answered by other bereaved parents every evening 7 – 10pm.  Tel: 0800 282 986 or 0800 800 6019 (free for main network mobiles)
  • Crisis Pregnancy Support Centre, Counselling and support centre in Hull. Tel: 01482 492929 www.crisispegnancy.co.uk
  • ARC (Antenatal results and Choices) The ARC Forum has been set up as a safe place to make contact with other parents who have lost a baby following a prenatal diagnosis. www.arc-uk.org
  • TAMBA, support for parents who have lost one or both twins, or babies from a multiple birth. Tel: 01252 332 344 www.tamba.org.uk
  • Multiple Birth Foundation, support for parents who have lost one or babies from a multiple birth. Tel: 02033 133 519 mbf@imperial.nhs.uk

Listed are some useful contacts for advice: