Caring for Your Baby’s Body

These questions and answers are solely related to your child’s body and how you should care for it immediately, if you plan to save the body for a burial. If you have a question that you would like to see here, please submit it using our contact form. 




What can I do with my baby’s body if I deliver him or her at home?

Try to keep the baby in a saline solution or water as much as possible until the burial. If the body starts to shrivel from loss of moisture, it should rehydrate after some time in a saline solution. You will need to keep the container in the refrigerator, although this is not recommended for more than several days.

Since the baby has been in his or her own waters since conception, his or her body tends to look more natural there. When in water, you can likely see more physical details (toes, fingers) than when out. Also, as the baby’s skeleton is still fairly soft, his body, especially his head, will flatten out over time unless supported by fluid.

Although keeping the body in fluid may not be practical with babies over a certain size, the deformation will then not be as much of an issue. However, do be aware that even 20 week babies’ heads are very malleable, and you can expect to see this phenomenon. If you can’t keep the baby in fluid, you still need to keep him or her in the refrigerator.

If you anticipate the burial will be delayed, the baby’s body may also be kept in the freezer. In this case, do not keep the baby in fluid.

Back to top


What can I do with my baby’s body if I deliver him or her at the hospital?

If you have a moment ahead of time, it can be very helpful to have a birth plan written up explaining that you want your baby’s remains, with copies for your doctor and the hospital staff. Discuss your preferences as soon as possible with them.

If you give birth at a hospital, make sure you tell the staff (ahead of time if possible) that you want to take the baby home. Sadly, some hospitals treat younger gestation babies as medical waste and will dispose of them accordingly unless you request otherwise. Older gestation babies (the age will vary, but starting at around 18-20 weeks) are usually kept in the hospital morgue and are easy to request for burial. Even if you requested genetic testing, you should still be able to come back to the hospital to retrieve the baby.

If you have a D&C, do tell them ahead of time that you will be wanting to take the baby home. It is required that any tissue the doctor removes during a D&C be sent to pathology so that everything can be identified. This is to avoid a situation in which something (like the placenta) is left behind, although this is not very likely. You will still be able to go to the hospital lab in a day or so (varies with hospital) to pick up your baby. He or she will most likely be in a specimen cup. It is NOT recommended to try to open the cup and go through it. You will not have an intact body and it can be very disturbing. You can still bury the cup in a casket and/or wrapped in some fabric.

If you have surgery to remove an ectopic pregnancy, you can also request the body. As with the D&C, everything will be sent to pathology, but you should still be able to come and pick up the baby. It is best to request this ahead of time (although even if you don’t request beforehand, you should still be able to retrieve the baby as long as you request this soon afterward).

PLEASE NOTE: Some facilities will refuse to release the remains of your baby after a D&C, surgery or natural miscarriage, or will only release them to a funeral director. Be prepared to be very aggressive if confronted with this problem and speak to whomever needed. We have been hearing that this is beginning to get easier, and also that Catholic hospitals in general are better at meeting your needs in this case.

Back to top


Can I take pictures of my baby? What if he/she is disfigured?

The worry that the baby will be disfigured and somehow “frightening” or “horrifying” is a common one. It’s true that sometimes babies will exhibit a physical abnormality. Most will not. If the baby departed quite a while before being born, he may show signs of this including fluid collections under the skin, lightly peeling skin or softening.

It is up to you to decide if you are comfortable taking pictures; many people do not. Keep in mind that over time, you may wish you had more pictures because memories fade and you may want to remember the baby as he or she was. If you do take photos, try to include the entire body for at least one picture, even if there are disfigurations. You can always throw away or delete the photo later, but you will not have another chance to take more photographs.

A few options and hints for photographing your baby:

  • Take a few pictures that focus on details such as hands, feet, or ears.
  • Wrap the baby in a bit of cloth and take pictures of him or her that way.
  • Take pictures of his or her hands on top of a blanket or your own fingers.
  • Place your wedding ring around his or her ankle.
  • Take pictures under different lighting: daylight, lamplight, dim, bright, etc. We suggest not using the flash especially if you are photographing a very young baby, as their skin is very smooth and will be wet and reflects the light in a very distracting way. Instead of using a flash, adjust the ambient lighting.
  • Later you can change some of the photos to black and white. This is a good way to disguise the non-pinkness of the skin. You can also fuzz the edges of the photo to really focus on a detail. Drawings can be made from these photographs and artists who do this are skilled at glossing over minor defects.

Beautiful photographs can be taken of any baby. Even if your baby is very tiny and has deformities, you can photograph them. If this is something you feel that you really aren’t up to, ask someone else to do it for you. If you are delivering a baby over 25 weeks, a Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep photographer will come to the hospital to photograph the baby free of charge.

Remember: no one will be judging these photographs later, so take any photos you like. Take more photographs than you think you ‘need’. These are the only photographs you will have.

Back to top