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Northern Ireland a step closer to Baby Loss Certification scheme

16th April 2024

We’re really encouraged that a scheme to formally recognise baby and pregnancy loss before 24 weeks in Northern Ireland has taken another step forward.

Yesterday (Monday 15th April), the NI Assembly unanimously passed a motion to progress the Baby Loss Certificate scheme. In a video afterwards, First Minister Michelle O’Neill stated that executives were now working together to deliver the scheme.

We are incredibly encouraged by this news, and by the emphasis on certificates being optional. We know that not all those who experience a loss will feel the need for or want a certificate, but it is extremely important to have the choice.

Erin Sharkey, the M.A.’s Northern Ireland support group leader, said: “Having the option of an official baby loss certificate, recognised by Stormont, will help bereaved families to begin to grieve, with a tangible memorial to their baby.

“A certificate will bring validity to all the feelings that come with the loss of a pregnancy, the sadness, the anger, the confusion, and will bring much comfort to those who request one.”

Miscarriage Association Chief Executive Vicki Robinson added: “The loss of a baby in pregnancy, however early it happens, can be deeply distressing. Having no formal recognition of that loss can add to the sense of grief and isolation.

“We know the optional certificate scheme had has a hugely positive impact to so many people already and we look forward to it being extended to NI as soon as possible.”

Michelle O’Neill, in a social media video, said: “This scheme will send a very clear message to parents who have suffered the heartbreak of losing a baby during pregnancy: that your love is real, your grief is valid, and that you are not alone.

“We hear you, we see you, and we will work to support you.”

We are looking forward to seeing this scheme implemented, so that all those who would like recognition and acknowledgement in the form of a certificate can choose to have that.

We know many of our community have been waiting for Northern Ireland to follow suit after Scotland and England recently announced optional certification schemes.

We are also aware that the Government in Wales is discussing how it might develop a similar scheme and we hope to see progress there soon, too.


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