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In 2013 in the UK, one in every 137 babies was either stillborn or died in the first 4 weeks of life

Here in N. Ireland, over 3 babies a week are stillborn or die in the first 4 weeks of life.

Registration

Registering the death of you baby

Registering the death or stillbirth of your baby is something you will probably never have thought you would have to do. Unfortunately the law says it must be done.

The registration must be done at your local registrar's office. The hospital staff should tell you where it is. If they did not, check the phone book or ring your local council.

Registering a Stillbirth

When

The stillbirth of your baby must be registered within 42 days.

Who can register the stillbirth

If you are married, either the mother or father may do it. If you are unmarried the mother must register the stillbirth - but you can take someone with you for support and to help.

Forms

When your baby is stillborn, the doctor or midwife will complete a medical certificate which you must take with you. If you want to have your baby cremated, you will need a cremation form signed by two medical staff.

What the registrar will need to know

What you will get

You'll be offered a "certificate of stillbirth". If you're unsure whether you want one, think carefully. It's better to have a certificate you never look at than to want a certificate you don't have. Many parents like to have the certificate as recognition that their babies were real, even though they are no longer with them.

You'll also be given a "form to permit the disposal of the body". You should give this to your funeral director or, if the hospital is arranging the funeral, to the person organising it there.

Registering a Neonatal Death

When

Your baby's death must be registered within 5 days. If you baby lived only a very short time, this can be done at the same time as registering the birth (see below).

Who can register the death

If you are married, either the mother or father may do it. If you are unmarried the mother can register the death but the father can only register if he has been acknowledged as the father and has signed the birth registration. Alternatively another relative, someone else who was present at the death, or a suitable person from the hospital can arrange the registration if you cannot do it yourself.

Forms

You must take the medical certificate given to you by the hospital issued by the doctor who saw your baby before death.

What the registrar will need to know

What will you get

You'll be offered a death certificate (there is a small fee). Many parents find it helpful to have an official record of their baby's death. If you are unsure whether you want one, think carefully. It's better to have a certificate you never look at than to want a certificate you don't have, though copies may be obtained later.

You'll also get a "certificate for burial or cremation". You should give this to your funeral director or, if the hospital is arranging the funeral, to the person organising it there.

You'll also get a certificate for any social security benefits that may be payable. See the Maternity Rights section of this website for further information on benefits.

Registering a Birth and Neonatal Death at the same time

You will need the same information to do this as for registering a death. However, there is a difference - to register a birth you do not have to have decided on your baby's name as this can be added at any time within the following two years.

General advice

Registering the death or stillbirth of your baby can be a traumatic and upsetting experience. You may still be in shock and very confused about what has happened. Registrars will generally try their best to help you through the process in a sensitive and professional manner. Despite this, many parents find it very hard, so it is a good idea to take a friend or family member with you who can help support you.