Cremation for a Stillborn Baby: Your Questions Answered | Trupoint Memorials Blog

Cremation for a Stillborn Baby: Your Questions Answered

Cam Henning
By Cameron-Leigh Henning
Joel Taylor
Edited by Joel Taylor

Published July 25, 2022.

Cherub ornament with a candle and flowers

Stillbirth is a distressing time for parents and family as they attempt to navigate the grief and pain of losing a baby. If a baby is born stillborn after 24 weeks, you are legally required to make funeral arrangements for either cremation or burial.

You will probably need a lot of help and support during this time. Your doctor or midwife is there to assist and will be able to provide you with more information to help you understand what has happened. We have outlined the essentials of cremation for a stillborn in this article to help you along your way.

What Does the Cremation Process Entail for Stillborns?

It isn’t easy to have to think about administrative tasks after a time like this. However, unfortunately, some paperwork needs to be completed since it is legally required to register a stillborn baby—but you don’t have to rush into doing anything. You will have a few weeks to sort it out, and the hospital staff is there to help.

A cremation or some other way of saying goodbye can help you cope with your loss, however early it happens. Some parents appreciate the formal acknowledgment of their baby’s existence that registering them brings.

Receive a Medical Certificate

First of all, your midwife or doctor will issue a medical certificate of stillbirth. If your baby passes away before 24 weeks, the hospital may offer to arrange the cremation for free or for a small fee, possibly together with other stillborn babies. If your baby passes away after 24 weeks, you will need to register their birth with the Register of Births, Deaths, and Marriages.

If you would prefer to make your own arrangements for another cremation type and memorial, you are more than welcome. You will need some form of certification from the hospital to give to the crematorium you choose, which the hospital should be able to provide, along with some helpful contacts and information.

Can You Keep Stillborn Cremains?

The process of cremation for a stillborn follows that of a normal cremation. The date of the cremation and service will depend on when the hospital releases your baby. The funeral home will arrange to fetch your baby from the hospital and take them to the crematorium, where they will be cremated in a small coffin.

Your baby’s ashes will be given to you if you choose an individual cremation through a private funeral home, although there won’t be many cremains. In the case of very small stillborns, there may be too few ashes to collect. Make sure to ask that your local crematorium does its best to produce these ashes for you. You can decide if you want the crematory to bury or scatter the ashes or if you would like to keep them, bury them, or scatter them yourself. In the case of the hospital organizing the cremation, especially in the case of shared cremation, they will inform you where the ashes are buried or scattered.

If you choose to do a cremation followed by a memorial service, the length of the service, who is invited, and what happens is entirely up to you. This will be a difficult process, but knowing your baby is at rest may be comforting and bring some much-needed closure.

Costs of Cremating a Stillborn Baby

Sometimes, the hospital will arrange the service for you, usually free of charge or for a small fee, which is a more affordable cremation option. However, options may be limited to cremation and even shared cremation. Funeral homes also offer these services.

The average cost of cremation for an infant, including a stillborn baby, is $800 to $1000.

Cremation Urns Are for Stillborn Babies

Choosing the right urn for your stillborn baby can be emotional. The general rule is that there will be one cubic inch of ash for every pound of bodyweight. Stillborn babies are still likely very small and won’t weigh much at all. Various small urns are available to honor your baby’s memory, or you could use a keepsake urn that generally holds between 1 to 6 cubic inches of ash.