What happens to my baby's body after a miscarriage?

What happens to your baby after a miscarriage will depend on the length of the pregnancy, where you are when it happens, and what you decide. 

On this page

Miscarriages at home

Hospital arranged burials and cremations

Privately arranged burials and cremations

Burials at home

A certificate for your baby

Bereavement support for you

Miscarriages at home

If you miscarry outside of a hospital, you may have to decide what to do with your baby’s remains and pregnancy tissue. This decision might be different depending on whether you had an early loss or a second trimester loss. After an early miscarriage, some women and birthing people pass the remains in a toilet and flush it away. Others want to see and keep the remains of their baby and if it happens in this way it can be very upsetting.

Both reactions are completely natural. You may want medical confirmation that you have miscarried. Contact your midwife, GP or Early Pregnancy Unit (EPU) and ask what to do next.  

If you would like your baby’s remains examined or tested, save them and keep them cool until you can find out if this is possible.

If you have a second trimester loss, it would be unlikely that you would deliver at home, unless it was unexpected. If this happens you should contact your maternity unit straight away (call the number on your notes) or seek advice from A&E or NHS 111.

Hospital arranged burials and cremations

Some hospitals offer burials or cremations. Sometimes a number of babies are buried or cremated together. You may find comfort in the idea that your baby is with others.

Sadly, not all hospitals offer this service. Some may still incinerate your baby’s remains, particularly those lost in early pregnancy. This is legal in England and Wales. Scotland has different guidance which says that incineration is not acceptable.  

If you have had medical management in hospital, surgical management or an induction, ask your doctor or nurse about arrangements at your hospital as early as possible. You have a right to ask for your baby’s remains returned to you so you can make your own arrangements.

If you opt for hospital burial or cremation, they should provide you with written information about the options. This should include information about the recovery of ashes.

Privately arranged services, burials and cremations

You may want to make your own arrangements. You may arrange an informal service yourself or some people choose to use a funeral director, a specialist cremation service or a service through your church, mosque, temple, synagogue or gurdwara.  

The cemetery or crematorium will require a certificate or letter confirming your baby died before 24 weeks and was born without any signs of life. You can get this from the hospital you attended. If you did not attend hospital, you should go to your local hospital and explain the situation.

Burials at home

You are legally allowed to bury your baby at home, as long as you own the land, or have permission from the landowner. Some people who are renting choose to bury their baby in a large planter with a tree or shrub, that they can bring with them if they move.

A certificate for your baby

There are no legally required birth or death certificates for babies born before 24 weeks. This can be really upsetting, as it may feel as if your baby's life has not been recognised. You do have some other options for recognition and remembrance.

In Scotland you can apply to record your loss in a Memorial Book and receive a certificate of loss.

Some hospitals in England, Wales and Northern Ireland also offer a memorial book.  

In England you can apply for a baby loss certificate.

Read more about remembering your baby here.


Tests on your baby 

If you have had recurrent miscarriages, you should be offered tests on your baby’s remains. These tests can check for abnormalities in your baby’s chromosomes (blocks of DNA which contain instructions for developing every part of a person). This can help doctors get a better picture of why you might have recurrent miscarriages.

After a second trimester loss or a stillbirth, most hospitals will offer to carry out some tests to try and find a reason for your loss. This is called a post-mortem. It is only done if you give your consent (if you say it is ok for them to do it).

A full post-mortem involves examining baby carefully, outside and inside the body and can take several hours to carry out. The cuts made to examine inside your baby’s body will be repaired if possible. If you want, your baby can be wrapped or dressed to hide any marks. You can see your baby again afterwards.  

A partial post-mortem might involve examining the baby from the outside only.

You may have lots of questions about how and where the post-mortem is performed, and what the results might tell you. Talk to the midwife and doctor caring for you about your concerns and questions.  

It may be several weeks before the results of your baby’s post-mortem are ready. Your doctor or GP will invite you to a follow-up appointment to talk about the results.  

A post-mortem does not often provide a reason for a miscarriage, so you may not find out why your baby died. But it may help rule out some possibilities and perhaps reassure you if you want to try to get pregnant again in the future.


Bereavement support for you

You do not need to go through this alone. There are lots of organisations that can provide advice and support.

If you’re worried that you or your partner are struggling to cope after losing a baby, please talk to your GP. They will be able to help you get the support you need locally.

You can also talk to a Tommy’s midwife for free. You can call them on 0800 0147 800, 9am-5pm, Monday-Friday. Or you can email them at [email protected]. Our midwives are specialists who can support you with any aspect of pregnancy and pregnancy loss that would be helpful for you.

Find out more about support after a miscarriage

Guidance for miscarriages that occur at home - The Miscarriage Association

Disposal of pregnancy remains FAQs | Human Tissue Authority (hta.gov.uk)


Microsoft Word - Guidelines on autopsy practice Fetal autopsy -2nd trimester fetal loss and termination of pregnancy for congenital anomaly (rcpath.org) 

Review dates
Reviewed: 16 February 2024
Next review: 16 February 2027