Cheryl Titherly, Improving Bereavement Care Manager at Sands, said: "From time to time, Sands receives requests from bereaved parents who want a change to current legislation in relation to the definition of stillbirth or the type of certificates they receive.
"Registration is required by law for all stillbirths (that is, babies born at or after 24 completed weeks of pregnancy showing no signs of life), all live births and all deaths.
"Sands does not support a change to the current definition of stillbirth nor changing the certificates that parents who have a stillbirth receive. This is because medical opinion does not currently support reducing the age of viability below 24 weeks.
"We fully understand that some parents whose baby was born dead before 24 weeks find it very distressing that they cannot register the birth. However, it is important to recognise that there are also many parents who would be distressed if they had to register the birth in this way.
"We acknowledge that whatever the definition of stillbirth is, there will be those who fall just below it. Therefore, there will always be some parents who find this definition to be an additional source of distress at a deeply painful time. Sands is concerned that any changes to the way in which stillborn babies are registered (for example by issuing a birth and death certificate instead of a certificate of stillbirth) would make it harder to monitor stillbirth trends and causes.
"At Sands, we know from the many thousands of parents we support that having keepsakes of their baby is very important to them. When a life is so short, there are few opportunities for creating memories. Sands, therefore, encourages all hospitals to offer the option of a Certificate of Birth to parents of all babies who are born dead before 24 weeks. Templates are available to download on Sands’ website at www.uk-sands.org"