Question on when infants die

  1. This is going to sound like a terrible question, but it's one that I have been wondering about for years.

    In the tragic case when a baby dies, at what point of gestation is the hospital required to send the body to the funeral home versus "taking care of it" at the hospital. Is there a requirement at all?

    I took a Death and Dying class many years ago when I was in college, and when we toured a funeral home, I asked the funeral director this, and unfortunately, it wasn't my day, because he and his wife lost an infant just a few months before. (I wanted to crawl under a rock). So my question never got answered.

    The only thing that I did learn is that he said they don't recommend embalming for an infant b/c it has a tendency to turn the skin grey.
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  2. 13 Comments

  3. by   ElvishDNP
    In our hospital it is the parents' choice no matter what the gestation is. We offer free cremation services if the parents want it (takes a little longer to get the ashes back than w/ funeral home), or the parents can choose a funeral home, or they can take the baby home & bury him/her. If they take the baby home to be buried, they have to call their county health dept in order to comply with sanitation regs. (i.e. you can't bury the baby w/in 100ft of a water supply etc.) for the burial. I am only talking about fetal deaths here; I don't know if the rules are different for an older infant.
  4. by   maryloufu
    I don't know the answer- but I wanted to tell you that you are not the only one who ever had this sort of bad day. I am notorius for saying the wrong thing. My friend called me from the hospital the day after she had a baby. When I heard her voice I said "Hey whats the deal? You are up there playing with that baby and you didnt even call me?" Then she told me the baby had died and they had just taken him and she was calling to see if see could still borrow my bassinet for the funeral. I was mortified.
  5. by   KaroSnowQueen
    Here the baby must be buried/cremated if it is born alive. Before viability, (24 weeks I think) it is the parent's choice. After viability, I think it also must be buried/cremated, regardless of live or still birth, although the parents can choose whether or not to have a funeral.
    We are in a mostly rural area, so most people do have a funeral here. My best friend had two babies born alive at 24 and 20 weeks and they both were named, had a funeral and burial (they even had a viewing for the 24 weeker). My grandson was stillborn at 18 weeks, named,and was cremated with a funeral. In Indiana, stillborn babies are given birth certificates now, this is a relatively new development.
  6. by   ElvishDNP
    What caused them to change the birth certificate requirement? We're in NC and if the baby shows any signs of life, a breath, a muscle twitch, any pulsating cord at all, there's a birth cert and later a death cert. However, if there are no signs of life there is only a death cert. Just curious.

    It is so hard when babies die. I don't think I will ever get used to it, although you do learn with time what not to say. The first time I saw a 16weeker deliver in the bed I had a hard time sleeping for days afterward.
  7. by   babynurselsa
    Here one of the local funeral homes does free services for any fetal demise. If the parents do not deem to have a service they have a "mass burial" about every 3-4 months, even of early losses.
    This funeral home also came to a section of the RTS class that I took years ago and stated that they do embalm, they have some solutions that are punk tinged, though usually the services are closed. They ahve one individual there that kind of specializes in these special cases, I believe he and his wife suffered a loss several years ago. THis kind of made a special spot in his heart for these situations.
  8. by   BSNtobe2009
    Thank you for the responses.

    NICU is the place that I want to work but I know it's not all booties and babydolls. I'm sure I'll see things that I never wanted to see, but I just feel these are our most vulnerable citizens.
  9. by   IndyGal
    I have a friend who miscarried at 20 weeks. She opted not to have a funeral or any type of service, only to discover that her employer wouldn't grant her bereavement leave without one. Needless to say, she didn't stay with that employer much longer.
  10. by   mitchsmom
    20 weeks seems to be the cutoff for most of these things where I am.
    They do embalm babies here, at least in my experience.
    There is also a local assistance program for those in need, the local funeral homes rotate doing the services.
  11. by   BSNtobe2009
    Quote from IndyGal
    I have a friend who miscarried at 20 weeks. She opted not to have a funeral or any type of service, only to discover that her employer wouldn't grant her bereavement leave without one. Needless to say, she didn't stay with that employer much longer.
    Sounds like the same employer that I had when I had my preemie daughter and when I brought her home from the hospital at 4 lbs 10 oz, they couldn't understand why I couldn't return to work immediately after being out for 8 weeks.

    Then took away all of my bonus money (35% of my salary) for the next several months until I had no choice to quit because I had to take her to the doctor every week for checkups.

    Heartless B*******s!
  12. by   ?burntout
    Here in Alabama, it is really the parents' choice at any gestational age. If the baby is > 20 weeks gestation, the baby must be buried/cremated. If the baby is < 20 weeks, the baby may be buried or they may be buried on private property as long as the property is outside the city limits. Our local funeral homes help with the regulations if we are unsure.

    I don't think they embalm babies here. When my son died, I asked if they had embalmed him and they told me they didn't embalm babies because of the equipment-it is too strong to use on the babies.
  13. by   flytern
    The rules change occasionally. In northern Illinois (now) under 20 weeks parents have option of hospital cremating or parents having funeral. There is a paper they must sign withing 24hrs of delivery.

    Then you get into the splitting of hairs, is the fetus over 350gm? if so, parents must make funeral arrangements, any fetus over 20 weeks parents must make arrangements.

    We're not allowed to recommend local funeral homes, but we do whisper that there are some that will give parents a deal. Imagine, being in your 20's -30's and having to deal with funeral homes, it's not suppose to be that way.

  14. by   BSNtobe2009
    Quote from flytern
    The rules change occasionally. In northern Illinois (now) under 20 weeks parents have option of hospital cremating or parents having funeral. There is a paper they must sign withing 24hrs of delivery.

    Then you get into the splitting of hairs, is the fetus over 350gm? if so, parents must make funeral arrangements, any fetus over 20 weeks parents must make arrangements.

    We're not allowed to recommend local funeral homes, but we do whisper that there are some that will give parents a deal. Imagine, being in your 20's -30's and having to deal with funeral homes, it's not suppose to be that way.

    No it's not, and it's one of the saddest parts of life.

    Thanks again for everyone's responses.

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