Parents who have suffered an early pregnancy loss should have the opportunity:
- To be with each other during any tests, procedures or hospitalization as much as possible.
- To be cared for by an empathic staff who will respect their feelings, beliefs and individual requests.
- To have information presented in terminology understandable to parents regarding their baby’s status and or cause of death (if known), including pathology reports and medical records.
- To be told all options and to be given the choice (when medically possible) on how to proceed when their baby has died, such as D&C, natural delivery or delivery induced by medications.
- To be able to see and hold their baby and take photographs if possible.
- To be given the option to name their baby if they choose to, whether or not the gender is known.
- To observe cultural and religious practices the parents feel are appropriate to the situation.
- To be informed of the grieving process and to be given referrals and resources that will help them through their grief.
- To be offered as many mementos as possible, for example, ultrasound photos, memory box, certificate of life.
- To be given information on the facility’s disposition policy and offered choices whenever possible.
- To be given options regarding farewell rituals such as a hospital memorial service, a balloon release, or a private burial at home.
- To receive follow-up appointments for medical tests and genetic counseling or to review lab test results.
These rights should be granted to parents no matter how early in the pregnancy their loss occurred.
Adapted from “Rights of Parents who Experience and Early Pregnancy Loss” by Perry-Lynn Moffit, co-author of A Silent Sorrow and endorsed by Share Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support, Inc. and pregnancy and perinatal loss support groups and leaders nationally.
Rights of Parents When a Baby Dies
- To be given the opportunity to see, hold, touch, and bathe their baby at any time before and/ or after death within reason.
- To have photographs of their baby taken and made available to the parents or held in a secure place until the parents wish to see them.
- To be given as many mementos as possible, e.g., crib card, baby beads, ultrasound and / or other photos, lock of hair, baby clothing and blankets, feet and hand prints and/or permanent molds and record of weight and length.
- To name their child and bond with him or her.
- To observe cultural and religious practices.
- To be cared for by an empathetic staff who will respect their feelings, thoughts, beliefs and and individual requests.
- To be with each other throughout hospitalization as much as possible.
- To be given time alone with their baby, allowing for individual needs.
- To be informed of the grieving process.
- To be given the option of donating their baby’s cartilage, tissue and/or organs for transplant or donating the baby’s body to science.
- To request an autopsy. In the case of miscarriage, to request to have or not have an autopsy or pathology exam as determined by applicable law.
- To have information presented in terminology understandable to the parents regarding their baby’s status and cause of death, including autopsy and pathology reports and medical records.
- To plan a farewell ritual, burial or cremation in compliance with local and state regulations and according to their personal beliefs, religious or cultural tradition.
- To be provided with information on support resources which assist in the healing process, e.g., local support groups, perinatal loss internet support, counseling, reading material and perinatal loss newsletters.
The Rights of Parents was updated in July 2006.
The bold words reflect this update.
Rights of the Baby
- To be recognized as a person who was born and died.
- To be named.
- To be seen, touched and held by the family.
- To have the end of life acknowledged.
- To be put to rest with dignity.
Rights of Children When a Sibling Dies
- To be acknowledged as individuals who have feelings that need to be expressed.
- To be given the choice to see and hold our sibling before and after the death within reason.
- To be considered in the choices parents are given, we may have opinions on such things as plans for funeral, baby’s name, etc.
- To be informed about the feelings of grief in our terms, giving us the choice of a support group or counselor.
- To be recognized by our society that we will always love and miss our sibling.
Copyright © 1991 Adapted by Share Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support, Inc., with permission from Women’s College Hospital, Perinatal Bereavement Team, Toronto Ontario Canada. Updated July 2006.