Pregnancy and Newborn Loss

We are so sorry. . . .

You have just received the terrible news that your pregnancy is ending. The dream of bringing this baby home to join your family will not become a reality. No matter how far along you were in your pregnancy, we understand that this is a hard time for you. You may be overwhelmed with feelings, or feel numb and in shock.

We hope this booklet will help you understand what is happening, what your options are and where you can find more support.

In this booklet

The First Days 4

Your treatment options 4

Let nature take its course 4

Surgery 4

Induce labor 5

Remembering your baby 5

Memorial rituals 5

Examination of the baby or fetus 5

Caring For Your Baby's Remains 6

Individual burial or cremation 6

Hospital-arranged group burial 7

Financial help 7

Birth and death certificates 7

Live birth 7

16 weeks pregnant or longer 8

Less than 16 weeks pregnant 8

Unmarried parents 8

Support and Resources 9

Support groups 9

Resources and free catalogs 10

Organizations and websites 10

How else may we help you? 12

The First Days

Although this is a difficult time, there are important decisions that you must make while you are in the hospital. We urge you to talk to your care provider so that you understand your options.

Your treatment options

Let nature take its course

You may have the option to wait until your body labors on its own. This gives you time to prepare emotionally and decide how you will tell family and friends. Some people use this time to plan rituals and mementos.

Even in early pregnancy, labor brings some pain and bleeding. Your provider will tell you what to do during and after labor.


If your baby died in early to mid-pregnancy, you may have surgery to remove the fetus. Usually, you can schedule outpatient surgery within a few days. You will have anesthesia for the surgery and receive pain medicine afterward. It is important to know, however, that the fetus will not be whole after the surgery. So, you may not be able to see or hold the remains. You may still ask for rituals and mementos.

Induce labor

If you are in mid- to late pregnancy, your provider may have you come to the hospital for a special procedure to start labor. You will stay in the hospital until after delivery. If your body is not ready to give birth, the process can take many hours. After delivery, many parents find it helpful to spend time with the baby and gather mementos.

Remembering your baby

The choice to see your baby, or to have photos taken, is a personal one. It may depend on how far along you were in your pregnancy. Few parents feel ready to make this decision, so our staff is here to help.

Memorial rituals

We honor the cultures and faiths of all our patients. You may perform any rituals you like during your hospital stay, either in your room or in the hospital chapel. We urge you to discuss your ideas with our chaplain or your own family clergy.

Examination of the baby or fetus

Your care provider may ask the hospital to do a surgical exam, autopsy or tests. This may help determine why your baby died. We will talk to you about the tests, and may ask you to fill out a consent form for certain tests. If you have had repeated pregnancy loss or have chromosome problems, your care provider may request genetic testing.

Caring For Your Baby's Remains

Our hearts go out to you at this difficult time. It may be hard to make important decisions. We want to make sure you know all of your options.

In Minnesota, any remains from a pregnancy loss or newborn death must receive a proper burial or cremation.

Individual burial or cremation

You may choose individual burial or cremation, no matter how early or how far along you were in your pregnancy.

Most people choose a funeral home to help make individual arrangements. Costs vary, and in some cases services are free.

Let us know if you would like help finding a funeral home. Or you may want to ask your faith or community leader for help. You will need to compare services to decide what is right for you.

  • If you choose burial, your funeral home may provide a small casket, or we can help you find one.

  • If you choose cremation, the remains (called cremains) are returned to you. There is only a tiny amount. Many families buy a jewelry or gift box to hold the cremains. You may also request a container from Fairview.

Hospital-arranged group burial

If you were less than 20 weeks pregnant and your baby died before or during birth, Fairview will include your baby in our group memorial and burial service unless you make individual private arrangements.

The burial takes place every three months in the baby section of a local cemetery. You are receiving the details on a card enclosed with this booklet. While you cannot mark the gravesite with your baby's name, you may visit and lay flowers or mementos.

Some families have their baby's remains tested to try to find the cause of death. In some cases, there are no remains left for burial after this exam.

Financial help

Your county may offer financial assistance to help pay funeral costs. If you'd like more information about this, let us know. Our social workers or your funeral director can help you.

Birth and death certificates

Live birth

If your baby was born alive, the hospital will send birth information to the State of Minnesota. You must arrange for individual burial or cremation. Death information is reported to the State of Minnesota by the licensed funeral home. You may claim your baby as a dependent on your tax form in that year. For a small fee, you may order legal copies of the birth and death certificates. Contact:

Minnesota Department of Health
Office of the State Registrar
phone: 651-201-5970, fax: 651-201-5740

16 weeks pregnant or longer

If you were pregnant for 16 weeks or longer and your baby died before birth, the hospital will send a Report of Fetal Death to the State of Minnesota.

If you request it, the hospital will make a special record of birth for you to keep as a memento. Or, for a small fee, you may order a Certificate of Birth Resulting in Stillbirth from the State Registrar (see address on page 7.) You may not claim your baby on your tax return.

Less than 16 weeks pregnant

If you were pregnant for less than 16 weeks and your baby was not born alive, the State of Minnesota does not require a Report of Fetal Death. However, you may still ask that a Report of Fetal Death be filed, and you may order a Certificate of Birth Resulting in Stillbirth from the State Registrar (see address on page 7.) If you request it, the hospital will make a special record of birth for you to keep as a memento.

Unmarried parents

Unless the father is listed on the hospital birth and death forms, only the mother can get a copy of a birth or death certificate.

Support and Resources

Be assured that there is no right way to find comfort and support. It may take you several tries to find out what works best for you.

Support groups

Several agencies in the Twin Cities and around the state offer facilitated support groups for families who are grieving the loss of their baby. They provide a chance to learn and to share personal stories. Some families find it helpful to join a group right away after a loss. Others find it more helpful to wait a few months. We encourage you to do whatever is right for you.

There are also groups for the following:

  • Grandparents, extended family and friends

  • Pregnancy after a loss

  • Sudden and unexpected infant death

  • Death of a child of any age

  • Infertility

  • Support for depression or anxiety after a pregnancy or birth

For current information about support groups and resources in the Twin Cities and outstate Minnesota, call 612-672-7452.

Resources and free catalogs

A Place to Remember

1885 University Ave., Suite 110

St. Paul, MN 55104

651-645-7045 or 800-631-0973

Bereavement Services, RTS

1910 South Ave.

La Crosse, WI 54601

608-791-4747 or 800-362-9567, ext. 4747

Centering Corporation

P.O. Box 4600

Omaha, NE 68104

402-553-1200 or 866-218-0101

Perinatal Loss

2116 NE 18th Avenue

Portland, OR 97212


Organizations and websites

A Heartbreaking Choice

Support after a tragic prenatal diagnosis or pregnancy termination for medical reasons

Faith's Lodge

Retreat center and programming for parents and families coping with serious illness or the death of a child. Financial assistance is available to Fairview patients.

Minnesota Sudden Infant Death Center

Information, counseling, and support for sudden and unexpected infant death from any cause

Pregnancy and Postpartum Support Minnesota

Helpline, resource lists and community information for mothers, fathers and families during and after a pregnancy, including resources and referrals for pregnancy and infant loss and pregnancy after a loss.

Pregnancy Loss and Infant Dealth Alliance (PLIDA)

Union of professional groups, institutions, and individuals who offer care and support to families who experience a pregnancy or infant loss

RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association

Support groups and resources for women and men living with infertility


High-risk pregnancy support

Su Familia Multicultural Counseling

Culture-based counseling services in English, Spanish and Hmong

Subsequent Pregnancy After a Loss Support (SPALS)

Email support group for pregnancy after a loss

The Compassionate Friends

Support groups and resources for families after the death of a child of any age

The International Council on Infertility Information Dissemination (INCIID)

Information and forums about infertility, pregnancy loss and adoption

How else may we help you?

Our staff is specially trained to understand the needs of parents who have suffered a pregnancy loss. Please don't hesitate to ask for support or information from our nurses, social workers, chaplains or psychologists.

After you leave the hospital, if you need help finding support resources, please call 612 672-7452.

For informational purposes only. Not to replace the advice of your health care provider. Copyright © 2014 Fairview Health Services. All rights reserved. SMARTworks 521880en – REV 06/16.

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