When a baby dies before 24 weeks of pregnancy, there is no legal recognition of his or her brief life, no birth or death certificate.
While some parents may be relieved that they don’t have to face the ordeal of registering their loss at the local Registry office, others find this threshold immensely distressing and hurtful.
He was my baby. I’d seen him on scan, I’d felt him kick. How can someone say he doesn’t count?
A recent online petition seeks to lower the age of registration to 20 weeks rather than 24. That would be welcomed by many parents – although it would not help those whose babies died at, say 18 or 19 weeks.
Others campaigns have argued that that there should be no threshold at all, allowing the registration of the loss of any baby who dies at any stage of pregnancy.
It seems unlikely that the law on the age of viability will be changed in the foreseeable future, but we believe we have an opportunity now to campaign for the wider availability of certificates of loss for those parents who would like them. These would not be the same as a legal document, it’s true, but they would go some way to marking these tiniest of lives.
The Miscarriage Association – along with other organisations too – has long encouraged hospitals to offer parents some form of certification for babies lost in pregnancy. We would be delighted if you would share our guidance for hospitals with your local NHS Trust or Health Board.