Rights of Parents When a Baby Dies

“My infant son is dying. We want to bring him home. What can we do to honor him?”

As parents you have a right to: 

Be given the opportunity to see, hold and touch their baby at any

time before and/or after death, within reason.


Have photographs of their baby taken and made available to the

parents or held in security until the parents wish to see them.


Be given as many mementos as possible; for example, crib card,

baby beads, ultrasound and/or other photos, lock of hair, feet and hand prints and record of weight and length.


Name their child and bond with him or her.


Observe cultural and religious practices.


Be cared for by an empathetic staff who will respect their feelings,

thoughts, beliefs and individual requests.


Be with each other throughout hospitalization as much as possible.


Share time alone with their baby, allowing for individual needs.


Request an autopsy. In the case of a miscarriage, to request to have

or not have an autopsy or pathology exam as determined by applicable law.


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.


Plan a farewell ritual, burial or cremation in compliance with local

state regulations and according to their personal beliefs, religious or cultural tradition.


Be provided with information on support resources that assist in the

healing process; for example, support groups, counseling, reading material and perinatal loss newsletters.


Your Baby has a right to: 

Be recognized as a person who was born and died.


Be named.


To be seen, touched and held by the family.


To have life-ending acknowledged.


To be put to rest with dignity.



Reprinted with permission by National SHARE office: St. Joseph’s Health Center, 300 First Capitol Drive, St. Charles, MO 63301-2893