The government is launching a voluntary scheme in England to allow parents whose baby died before 24 weeks of pregnancy to apply for a free certificate to provide recognition of their loss.

Parents can access this free service from 9am today (22 February).

"The Government in England have today launched their official Baby Loss Certificate. It is currently available to people who have experienced any loss before 24 weeks gestation, since 1 September 2018. 

“As the new Baby Loss Certificate is only currently available to people who are more recently bereaved, Sands’ commemorative 'birth certificates' are still available for any bereaved parents who would like to have them, wherever they live in the UK.  A Memorial Book is already available for anyone in Scotland who has experienced pregnancy or baby loss prior to 24 weeks.” 

- Clea Harmer, Sands’ Chief Executive

The government has stated it is committed to ensuring bereaved parents feel supported through their grief and the certificates are part of that process, recognising their loss, acknowledging their pain and ensuring they feel heard. The certificates will not be compulsory - it remains the choice of all parents to manage the difficult time of a loss, however they see fit.   

“Losing a baby can be a hugely traumatic event and the introduction of certificates to formally acknowledge the loss of life is a positive step towards better supporting women and parents affected.              

“I’d like to thank charities and campaigners for their continuous work in bringing awareness to baby loss and making the certificates launching possible.   

“Improving women’s health care and maternity support is a priority, and this demonstrates progress in delivering our Women’s Health Strategy and ensuring parents feel supported during this heart-breaking experience.”   

- Victoria Atkins, Health and Social Care Secretary

Delivering on baby loss certificates was part of the government’s response to the independent Pregnancy Loss Review. The review was commissioned in 2018 to consider the registration and certification of pregnancy loss occurring before 24 weeks gestation and on the quality of care.     

The Review concluded that while it currently may not be possible to prevent many pre-24-week pregnancy losses from occurring, much more can be done to ensure each grieving parent receives excellent care and compassionate support.

Improvement to maternity care and birth trauma support were announced as a priority area within the women’s health strategy for England in 2024 – a vital plan to improve the health and wellbeing of women and girls. 

“We have listened to parents who have gone through what can be an unbelievably painful experience of losing a baby, and that is why today we are introducing baby loss certificates to recognise their loss, as part of our wider long-term plan for women’s health in our country, the Women’s Health Strategy."

- Maria Caulfield, Minister for the Women’s Health Strategy

How to apply for a baby loss certificate

The Government has laid out the following eligibility criteria for anyone who wishes to apply for a certificate:    

  • You have experienced a loss under 24 weeks gestation since 1 September 2018   
  • Are at least 16 years of age   
  • Were living in England at the time of the loss  
  • Currently live in England  
  • Are one of the baby’s parents or surrogate 

Sands is here to support you

We are here to support anyone affected by pregnancy loss or the death of a baby, however recently or longer ago, for as long as they need this.

We will continue to offer our range of free commemorative 'birth certificates' for anyone who wants one for their baby or babies. You can order these online, alongside a range of other bereavement support materials.

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