Today we welcome the Government’s commitment to allow pregnancy losses before 24 weeks to be formally recognised.
It will be the first time those experiencing miscarriage, ectopic or molar pregnancies in England will be able to receive an official certificate recording their loss.
While the optional certificates will not have the legal status of registration, nor confer benefits, for many people they will provide significant comfort and acknowledgement following their loss.
The new scheme, announced by the Government today (Wednesday 20th July), is part of a raft of measures unveiled in the Women’s Health Strategy which aims to put a greater focus on women’s specific health conditions including fertility and pregnancy loss, and gynaecological conditions such as endometriosis.
Under the announcement, the certificates are set to be available across England. It is hoped that the other UK nations will follow suit.
Miscarriage Association National Director Ruth Bender Atik comments:
We welcome this strategy and, in particular, the commitment to allow optional certification which we will know will be much appreciated by many people whose babies’ brief lives cannot be officially registered.
Anna, who has had three first trimester miscarriages, said:
A pregnancy loss certificate would have made a huge difference to me in the grieving process for my miscarriages. To me, each of those losses was a baby as much as the child I was able to carry to term, and to have the option to have this recognised would have meant the world to me.
I felt that my losses were seen as a physical medical issue for myself, and the lack of acknowledgement of what that meant for me was deeply hurtful. I believe these certificates would be a positive step in recognising the reality of the pain carried by all people processing the loss of a baby before 24 weeks.
Elizabeth told us:
When coping with the devastating loss of my baby at 16 weeks, one of the things I found helpful was to have the loss recognised and to have things to remember my baby by. We were lucky to be able to choose to have his name in the hospital book of remembrance. For many, that won’t be possible. The choice to have some sort of certification will I think be important to many parents.
With no information so far on the plans for implementation, it may be some time before these new certificates are available, and we will continue to advise the relevant Government departments as appropriate. In the meantime, our own memorial certificates are available to anyone who might find them comforting.
The Women’s Health Strategy also highlights the commitment to major new research into women’s health, to mandatory medical teaching and assessment on women’s health and to ensuring better access for women to health services throughout their lives.
Again, the details are yet to be announced, but we look forward to supporting implementation of the Strategy, continuing to champion the needs of all those who experience miscarriage, ectopic or molar pregnancy.