How to Collect Babies Remains When Experiencing a Miscarriage

Why do Miscarriages Happen?

There is nothing you can do to prevent a miscarriage. It is not your fault. PILSC is here to support and share our knowledge. Seeking medical attention as soon as possible is advised as your body has experienced significant trauma.

What To Expect during a Miscarriage?

Most likely, you will experience heavy bleeding, contractions and cramping. Many miscarriages happen at home over the toilet, which puts you in the challenging and heartbreaking position to choose between collecting the baby’s remains or flushing the toilet. We acknowledge these are tough decisions. The choice is yours. We have provided some information below to inform your decision.

Collection of Remains

There are miscarriage kits that can be purchased online; however, the miscarriage may happen before you have time to buy or prepare a kit. When using the toilet to collect remains, it is helpful to have a specimen collection pan and place it in the toilet. These are available at pharmacies, a medical supply store, or online retailers. If you do not have access to a collection pan, some suggest using a plastic sheet, a Ziploc bag, a plastic container, a large colander, or a strainer. Wearing gloves is recommended, but they will not make the experience less messy. There will be a lot of blood, perhaps more than you have ever seen, and you may experience severe cramping. Ask for support from a loved one to gather the items you need. Let your support person help in a way that feels comfortable for you.

The Decision to Flush

Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself scooping directly from the toilet bowl and facing the heartbreak that it may not be possible to recognize your baby. It is entirely acceptable to take the time you need to have a closer look or decide to flush the toilet. You may prefer to do this in private or want to have someone to support you. Choosing to flush makes sense to many, and no one has the right to judge your decision. However, you may be one of those who are not able to do it, and that is okay too. If you have any doubts, trust your instinct.

Next Steps

It is highly recommended that you place the remains in the fridge, do not freeze until you can seek medical attention. Unfortunately, collecting your baby’s remains for pathology or genetic testing may or may not be an option for you depending on the health system available in the area and your medical benefits coverage. Please consult with your health provider regarding testing options and specific guidelines for the collection of pregnancy tissue.

Some individuals feel the need to have a ceremony to mark their baby’s loss or have a burial or cremation. Our blog post Ritualize your Loss offers some ideas.

If you are losing the pregnancy in a medical facility, it is important to inform the medical professionals before the procedure about your desire to preserve the baby’s remains whenever possible.

During this process, the most important thing to remember is that having a miscarriage is one of the most emotionally and physically draining experiences you will ever face. Be gentle with yourself. The choices you make for the pregnancy are entirely personal. Try to do what feels right for you at the time.

Support

You are not alone. There are many resources available to help. Please visit our website for more information or to access our pregnancy loss support line available 9 am-11 pm MST 7 days a week. 

NOTE: This document is part of our FREE Resources collection. To see our other FREE Resources, visit this page.

(If you see an error on this document or have additional info that we could include, please contact us and let us know.)

Book with Erin Winters

In order to book with Erin, please connect directly with our Program Assistant, Shelagh via email at shelagh@pilsc.org

NOTE: Refrain from providing detailed personal information when emailing Shelagh. Feel free to describe your challenges in brief, and leave out personal details that you only wish to share with Erin.

Shelagh

Shelagh (she/her) brings with her a solid background as an admin in a variety of areas from business, academia and now with a charitable organization with the Pregnancy & Infant Loss Support Center. She feels passionate about working in a role that benefits others in the community.

Shelagh was exposed to bereavement and deep grief at an early age and it left her with a profound sense of how fragile life is and how we need to find joy and light wherever we can. She feels privileged to be able to take this sense with her into her role with PILSC while putting her strong admin skills to good use.