Still births

What is the difference between a still birth and a death?

A still birth is a child who is born after the 24th week of pregnancy and who after birth does not breathe or show any other sign of life. A death is when a person has lived, no matter how long, and then dies. Therefore, if a child is born alive and only lives for a matter of minutes the events must be registered as a live birth and also as a death.

What if I need to register a still birth?

A still birth has to be registered within 42 days and at the latest within three months.

Sands, the still birth and neonatal death charity, was established by bereaved parents in 1975 and obtained charity status in 1981. Sands' core aim is to support anyone affected by the death of a baby.

You can get advice on still birth by visiting their website, where you are also able to contact the society.

Still birth and neonatal death society (external website)

To register a still birth please contact your nearest registration office. Find your nearest registration office here.

Who can register a still birth?

If the parents are married to each other, either parent can register the stillbirth. If the parents are not married to each other, then:

  • if you want the father's details to be entered in the register, both parents can go and sign the stillbirth register together
  • if the father is unable to go to the register office, but you still want his details included, he will need to make a statutory declaration confirming that he is the baby’s father - you will need to give this to the registrar
  • if the mother is unable to go to the register office with the father, she may make a statutory declaration to confirm who is the baby’s father - you will need to give this to the registrar.

A statutory declaration is a legal document. It is used to confirm something to be true for the purpose of satisfying a legal requirement or regulation, when no other evidence is available.

If neither the mother nor father is able to attend, the following people can register:

  • the occupier of the hospital or house where the stillbirth took place
  • someone who was present at the stillbirth
  • someone who is responsible for the stillborn child
  • the person who found the stillborn child, where the date and place of the stillbirth are unknown.
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