Transportation of the deceased neonate


  • Specializes in Perinatal only!. Has 14 years experience.

One of the sad truths of this job is that we are occasionally responsible for the transportation of fetal demises to the morgue. I would like to hear from you as to exactly how you do this. Is the baby wrapped in blankets? Chux? Do you carry the baby in your arms? Some other sort of carrying receptacle?

Our management team has created an "angel basket" that I personally am uncomfortable with. I have always carried babies in a very nonobtrusive way so that the occasional member of the public that I may meet would have no idea. This new tulle and ribbon festooned basket feels (very) wrong to me. Management members feel that carrying a baby in a small plastic utility crate or other unobtrusive container is "very disrespectful".

Opinions? Input or suggestions?


40 Posts

I think the "respect" is in your heart, not the decoration of a container.

Jolie, BSN

6,375 Posts

Specializes in Maternal - Child Health. Has 37 years experience.

I've worked in a number of facilities and have been shocked at the transport methods used by some.

The most appalling in my mind was to place the shrouded body in a paper grocery sack to be hand carried down to the morgue. The idea was to be as inconspicuous as possible, but this seemed so undignified and wrong to me.

Hand carrying the infant's body is also a bad idea, in my opinion, for a few reasons: First of all, no matter how well wrapped the infant's body is, someone may recognize that you have an infant in your arms, making for an uncomfortable intrusion into the baby's and family's privacy. Also for security reasons (baby kidnapping), most hospitals disallow hand carrying of newborn infants by the staff, and if someone were to be seen doing so, they may be stopped by security, or reported by another astute staff member.

The basket you describe sounds inappropropriate as well.

I personally believe that some type of enclosed, wheeled transport device is the only appropriate and dignified means of transporting an infant's body.

Specializes in ER. Has 4 years experience.

I agree that a plastic container is disrespectful. I wouldn't want it for my child. On the other hand I think the fancy decorated basket is too much. It's not a joyous occasion. I think wrapping the babe in a receiving blanket and carrying it like you would a live baby would be a good choice.

Policy is that we carefully wrap the baby in nursery blankets and place in a cardboard box, similar to a file box. That way visitors have no idea what is in the box and it is not obvious to the parents.


15 Posts

Specializes in Perinatal only!. Has 14 years experience.

I thank you all for your quick responses. Good food for thought. Please continue to weigh in on this very sensitive issue, I would like to ascertain "best practices"from your input.


64 Posts

Has 11 years experience.

our infants who are large enough are transported by being swaddled and carried in the arms of a nurse. infants and fetuses who are too small to be transported this route or who's tissue is too fragile are carried or pushed by the RN in a bassinet or for very small ones are carried in a small moses-type basket.

ohmeowzer RN, RN

2,306 Posts

Specializes in ob/gyn med /surg.

we carry our babies in a blanket. when i first became a nurse , we transported them in a way that still makes me sick inside.


89 Posts

I think that what's really at issue here is our uncomfortable relationship with death. Period. And transposed onto such a precious innocent, so much more so. The truth is, there is absolutely NO way that we would ever be able to conduct the transport and feel "good" about it. I wonder what the best way would be to be more acclimated to the nature of the deceased infant......It seems like something I never personally would care to be faced with. But reality being what it is, whose sensibilities really matter most? The transporting nurse? The passer by in the hospital hall ways? The family members? The baby's? But back to the question: I think the "festooned" basket seems a little macabre and circus-like...If I were asked to do this, I would probably be wondering aloud, (and I do mean aLOUD), "Who's cornballish idea is this, anyway?!"


64 Posts

Has 11 years experience.

I agree. while we're at it, lets hang garland from the caskets, maybe some sparkly lights...


19 Posts

We always just wrapped them in blankets and did not let people look at the baby if they asked to while walking down to the morgue. I think an 'angel basket' makes it obvious and a plastic crate is disrespectful. Holding the baby is the most respectful IMO and then you lay them down on a bed in the morgue.


61 Posts

Our facility places them in a wheeled bassinet the same as any other child, swaddled appropriately, with their face covered. (I know from experience) I think this would probably be the most comforting to the parents mind and respectful to the deceased, IMO.

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