Miscarriage Burial Requirements
In the event of a miscarriage there are no legal requirements for burial or for a death certificate. In a way this is sad because there is no official recognition of your baby's life but it is also good because it means that there are no rules about what you can and cannot do. You can hold a ceremony for your baby and/or bury baby somewhere special to you. You can still honour your baby’s spirit with a ceremony even if you have no physical baby to bury. Check out our Remembering page for ritual and keepsake ideas.
There are some cemeteries in New Zealand that have spaces set aside for early loss babies, you may want to search for cemeteries in your area and ask what options they have available. You may also be able to request to bury your baby in the same grave as a relative of yours. For a formal burial there will be fees involved.
If your baby weighs 400 grams or more, or was born after 20 weeks gestation this is considered a stillbirth (1) and does come with burial and registration obligations (2). If you have a stillborn child and you are in a hospital situation the hospital staff will help you with the legal and burial requirements. If you have a stillborn baby at home with no medical professionals you should seek advice from your Lead Maternity Carer or your Primary Health Organisation.
If you have been working for your employer long enough (check your eligibility here) then you are entitled to three days bereavement leave for the death of a child. Currently the definition of ‘child’ in this context is up to your employer to determine; they can choose to not pay bereavement leave for an unborn child. There is a bill going through parliament right now (2020) that will add an amendment to officially include miscarriages and stillborn babies in the three days bereavement leave. The amendment was unanimously passed in its first reading, so hopefully this ambiguity will soon be remedied. (3)
If your employer will not grant you bereavement leave you may need to use sick leave (check your eligibility here). You are entitled to five days of sick leave per year. It is good to tell your employer as soon as possible that you want to take leave. A phone call may be best, or your workplace may have its own systems. You may be able to ask a support person to organise this for you. If you have no sick leave left for the year you can ask your employer to give you sick leave in advance, use some of your annual holidays, or you can ask to take unpaid leave. Miscarriage is physically and mentally draining so give yourself some time to recover. (4)
"I had a week off work. During that time I just allowed myself to do nothing and not feel bad or unproductive just accepted I needed some time to deal with the shock, rest and heal, since I ended up in hospital for the physical part of the miscarriage which was quite full on. I talked to family and friends mostly over messenger (because they don’t live nearby) and writing things out was a lot easier than talking to people on the phone. I also visited some friends and talked things over near the end of the week. I also tried to keep active and get back into exercise I enjoyed." - Shea, 2019 (b)
This page was reviewed 11/07/2020