Baby Loss Certificates – a compassionate move in the right direction

On 22 February 2024, the Department for Health and Social Care launched baby loss certificates for bereaved parents who have suffered pregnancy loss before 24 weeks since 1 September 2018.

Historically, in the UK if you suffered the loss of a pregnancy before 24 weeks there was no acknowledgment of the loss for bereaved parents.

Pregnancy loss before 24 weeks can be isolating for bereaved parents and their families. Many of those who suffered such a loss have felt that the pain of losing a pregnancy is made worse by the fact that there has been no formal recognition of the loss.

For years charities like Tommy’s, the Miscarriage Association and SANDS have been campaigning for losses before 24 weeks to be acknowledged and this is most certainly a step in the right direction.

The current certificates are optional and are not legal documents, but they do acknowledge the pregnancy loss and provide some comfort to bereaved parents at a difficult time.

The certificate is available for all losses that happen before 24 weeks, which will include early or late miscarriages, missed miscarriages, ectopic pregnancies, a termination for medical reasons, molar pregnancies, extremely premature birth, and a chemical pregnancy loss following an embryo transfer.

The certificates are currently for losses since 1 September 2018 and are only available for bereaved parents who live in England.

Bereaved parents need to apply for a certificate through the following link: Request a baby loss certificate – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

To complete the application for a certificate you will need:

– your NHS number or postcode of your GP,
– the mobile number or email address registered with your GP, and
– permission from the other parent and their email address if you want their name on the certificate.

This move is in response to the Government’s pregnancy loss review which is a “vision for improving the care and support available to families when baby loss occurs before 24 weeks gestation” which was published on 22 July 2023 and can be read here: Pregnancy Loss Review – summary report – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

This is a positive step in the right direction to acknowledge losses and goes to providing validation to the families.

Further implementations are planned to improve the care provided to bereaved parents of pregnancy loss before 24 weeks.

We hope that future developments for the care and support provided when a family suffers a pregnancy loss will happen sooner rather than later.

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