Trigger Warning: The following blog post discusses the remains of babies who were in the womb.
One of the more painful aspects of my miscarriage journey was that I lost my baby at home and ultimately flushed the toilet, where their remains ended up. This chapter of my loss has haunted me for years. When I started The Miscarriage Doula and started working with women after a traumatic loss, many admitted that they, too, flushed the toilet because they didn’t realize they had options. Even though I’m the professional in this space, I relate to those women.
Some of my clients have done what I wish I would have done, they saved their baby’s remains, and some may have buried them or kept their remains frozen until they could figure out the next step. Unfortunately, 90% of the women who share this fact with me are embarrassed to admit it. I want to be clear that here at The Miscarriage Doula HQ, we understand.
It’s okay to feel however you feel because it is your child’s remains. We should never see our children in that state or have to decide what to do with their bodies. At the time of your loss, when you grabbed a container and wanted to hold them or save them — that is a part of being their mother, and you should never feel embarrassed by that.
For those looking to learn their options for their baby’s remains, here are a few opportunities that many women don’t realize they have:
If you miscarry at home:
As difficult as it is, when you miscarry at home you really have two options and neither option is “right” or “wrong.” Many women don’t plan this part ahead of time and do what feels right in the moment. As I mentioned at the top of this blog post, I flushed and while sometimes I regret it, there are also times where I’m thankful that I don’t have more trauma because quite honestly, the image of the blood that I did hold in my hand or clean from the floor, is haunting enough. When miscarrying at home, you may either flush the toilet with your baby’s remains inside or save their remains (using objects like a strainer as outlined in our miscarriage handout). If you are able to save the remains of your child, then you may wonder what you can do with those remains. Keep reading to learn more about handling their remains.
If you have a procedure such as a d&c:
When having procedures like a D&C or D&E, you may think that it’s up to your doctors when it comes to your baby’s remains but that’s not always the case. Some states have laws around this but most don’t have any procedure in place which can benefit the bereaved mother because that means she may be able to ask for the remains to be returned to her after the procedure. Why would you ask for the remains to be returned to you? As difficult as it is to imagine, this decision absolutely matters if you wish to do one of the following options:
Handling their remains:
This entire blog post is filled with topics that are just so hard to talk about and please know that this wasn’t easy to write, even from a professional standpoint. After your loss, whether it happens at home or at the hospital, you have a few options when it comes to handling their remains.
At-Home Burial – Choosing to bury your baby in a garden or area outside of your home can be healing in so many ways. As difficult as it is, many women I speak with choose this option because it feels more natural and free. Know that there is no right way to bury your child and it’s all dependent on your comfort level. If you decide to do a home burial, I highly recommend you make a memorial out of it and include your family (if desired). Take that time for yourself to say goodbye and to allow yourself to move forward with life knowing that your child was loved long after they were physically here.
Local Funeral Home – Again, this one depends on the state where you live but many funeral homes will cremate the remains of babies at any gestation and some even do it for little to no cost. It’s not an easy task but don’t hesitate to call your local funeral home and ask if they handle the remains from pregnancy loss. Tip from a doula: delegate this task to a family member or friend.