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Baby loss certificate launched to recognise parents’ grief

From Department of Health and Social Care, The Rt Hon Victoria Atkins MP, and Maria Caulfield MP Published 22 February 2024.

Holding hands to show comfort.

Baby loss certificates for parents who experienced a loss of pregnancy before 24 weeks are now available for application from 9am today (22 February 2024).

Parents who have experienced the devastation of losing a baby before 24 weeks of pregnancy can apply for a certificate to have their grief recognised from today.  

The government is launching a voluntary scheme to allow parents to record and receive a certificate to provide recognition of their loss. Parents can access this free service from 9am today (22 February 2024). 

The government is committed to ensuring bereaved parents feel supported through their grief and recognise 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.   

Health and Social Care Secretary Victoria Atkins said:    

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.

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. 

Minister for the Women’s Health Strategy, Maria Caulfield, said:   

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. I would like to thank the tireless work of campaigners and charities for their work in supporting this agenda and making the certificates a reality.

To ensure all women get the support they need, the government is investing £25 million in women’s health hubs. Women’s health hubs provide integrated services for women in the community, enabling easier access to essential services for menstrual health, contraception, pelvic pain, menopause care and more.   

Kate Brintworth, Chief Midwifery Officer for England - NHS England, said:  

Compassionate and personalised care at every stage of pregnancy is vital, and I am pleased that women in England will now be able to access a baby loss certificate which recognises the impact and importance of early pregnancy loss to them and their families. The NHS is improving maternity and neonatal bereavement care across England, including by next month bereavement services will be available in almost every NHS trust, 7 days a week for women and families who sadly experience loss.

The government recognises the tireless work of campaigners who have spoken publicly about their experience with loss, and charities including Tommy’s, Sands, the Miscarriage Association and the Mariposa Trust, for continuing to raise awareness of this important issue. 

Supportive stakeholder reaction

Zoe Clark-Coates MBE BCAh, founder and CEO of the Mariposa Trust, co-chair and author of the Pregnancy Loss Review, said: 

Over the past 5 years, it has been my honour to co-chair and write the Pregnancy Loss Review on behalf of the Secretary of State for Health. The 73 recommendations that Sam and I submitted within the review offer a real opportunity to revolutionise baby loss care in England.  My passion and long-term commitment is to help all bereaved families, and by the implementation of these recommendations, I believe we will make great strides in addressing the disparities in the care, support, education and training that currently exist. One of those pivotal recommendations was for the introduction of a new certificate of loss, which the Mariposa Trust ( has tirelessly campaigned for over the past 9 years. I’m thrilled that from today millions of families will finally get the formal acknowledgment that their baby existed and I hope this will help their grieving process.  I would like to thank Dame Floella Benjamin for working with us to make this happen and the government for their commitment to bereaved families. My focus will now turn to the other 72 recommendations to ensure their successful implementation.

Samantha Collinge, Bereavement Lead Midwife, George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust and co-chair of the Pregnancy Loss Review, said: 

Today marks a milestone moment for not just Zoe and myself, the co-chairs and co-authors of the independent Pregnancy Loss Review but for the millions of people who have experienced pre 24 week baby loss. Since I was appointed as a bereavement midwife in 1998 I have campaigned for a standardised care pathway that ensures that every parent experiencing baby loss (regardless of the gestation or type of loss) receives the physical and emotional care and support they deserve.  The Pregnancy Loss Review with its 73 recommendations for improving care offers a real opportunity to change the landscape of pre 24 week loss and I feel enormously privileged to have co-led this piece of work. Miscarriage and other types of pre 24 weeks baby loss is often minimised and treated as a ‘clinical event’ or ‘just one of those things’ rather than the loss of a baby and sadly the emotional impact of the loss is often disregarded. Zoe and I hope that the introduction of a national certificate of baby loss will give bereaved parents the official recognition that their babies did exist and that their babies lives, however brief, really do matter.

Ruth Bender Atik, National Director of the Miscarriage Association, said:  

We warmly welcome the introduction of optional certificates for those who have experienced pregnancy or baby loss since September 2018, and we very much look forward to the scheme being extended to losses prior to that date as soon as possible.   For many, if not most people, even the earliest of losses can be deeply distressing, both emotionally and physically. It means the loss not only of this pregnancy but also of the hopes, plans and dreams that they had for this new life. And having no formal acknowledgement or marker of their loss can compound their grief. The new certification scheme will make a genuinely positive difference to many who have experienced pregnancy or baby loss, offering formal recognition of the tiniest of lives.

Background information

The certificate is available for either parent to access following a loss under 24 weeks since 1 September 2018. Applicants must be at least 16 years of age and have been living in England at the time of the loss.

 The certificate is an official but not legal document.

We will look to expand eligibility for certificates pre-dating September 2018 as soon as we can.  

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