The cut off point 

Here’s an interesting fact for you. Did you know that despite having gone through real labour at around 20 weeks gestation you won’t get a birth certificate for your son or daughter that you just pushed out and had hours of contractions for?
It’s all a bit complicated to be honest so let’s start with the facts first and foremost.
1. If a baby is born alive and dies, however the length of pregnancy completed i.e. gestation the birth and death must be registered despite the length of time they are alive for. This follows the same registration as any other death.
2. If a baby is stillborn, i.e.born dead after 24 weeks, the stillbirth must be registered in the stillbirth register. This combines features of the birth and death registration. I do believe that you can in most work places be entitled to maternity leave also.
3. A stillbirth before 24 weeks is not recognised. There is no registration, no certificate of acknowledgement for your baby you just gave birth too. Nothing. No legal trace. Despite having gone through real contractions and labour.
Oh yes, do not be fooled, if your pregnant and your baby has died or will die, that baby had to come out which means you have to go through contractions and labour and deliver that baby. Same as you would if it was going to live. I mean i guess you could have a c-section, but most hospitals I imagine will encourage you not to have such an invasive procedure but don’t quote me on this. Either way, even though the labouring part may be a lot shorter, that baby is being pushed out by you, it will be born without a cry, without a movement without air on their lungs.
Now to me this seems harsh, so if your 23 weeks and 5 or 6 days pregnant. You’ve had contractions for hours on end, spent however long delivering. The intense pain of delivering a dead baby and what do you get to show for it? Nothing. So I’m years to come if someone does your family tree, there will be Jo trace of that baby that you delivered naturally or by c-section.
Now in some cases I feel very lucky. Ethan was born at 21 weeks and 2 days and was born alive. The dates for me are extremely important. As we chose to end our pregnancy, of this had been after 22 weeks gestation, I would have had to have a needle straight through into Ethan to stop his heart. Then he would have been stillborn and there would have been no trace of him ever existing apart from my memories. However, he was born before 22 weeks and was born alive. This may have seemed like a cruel twist in my journey but I thank him every day for being born alive as now I have a birth certificate and a death certificate. I can now prove my son existed. Not only that, in the eyes of the law, he was a person aged 28 minutes old.
For someone who has lost a baby, ok I didn’t loose him, he died but still….you know what I mean……acknowledgement is EVERYTHING. Not only the acknowledgement of those aprons you but in the eyes of the law. Now SANDS do have a certificate that can be used and adapted for parents for a stillbirth before 24 weeks but I can’t imagine this is the same?
This Bill was challenged I believe in January 2014. The following is taken from
In January 2014, Tim Loughton (Conservative) introduced a Private Members’ Bill, intended to enable registration of a baby stillborn before the threshold of 24 weeks. The definition of stillbirth was to be based on the experience of giving birth. This Bill did not progress any further.
Tim Loughton has also raised the issue of registration of stillbirth before 24 weeks of pregnancy in other Parliamentary debates, speaking of the arbitrary nature of the 24 week threshold. He highlighted one particular case where twins had been stillborn either side of the threshold and were treated differently for registration purposes.
There have been a number of petitions calling for the law to be changed, to allow the registration of a stillbirth before the 24th week of pregnancy.
Sadly the law is still as I mentioned at the beginning and these challenges have never been passed.
Now I realise there has to be a cut off point but surely it can be altered in some way so that in certain circumstances and situations people can register their baby as a stillbirth. I know there is probably a lot more too it but it’s not hurting anyone surely so why can’t we grant these grieving parents their wish of a stillbirth registration to prove their baby existed. However I do understand that there has to be a cut off like I said. It’s a complicated one but sadly it’s one that leaves many parents feeling even more hurt with everything surrounding their dead baby.
Babies are not considered viable until after 24 weeks gestation, meaning from this point it is possible for them to survive but they would need special care in specialist facilities.
The other complication just to add to everything is when a baby is born alive and horn early, when can doctors intervene and when do they leave the baby to die. I read a lot of and on their it says that from 25 weeks and 0 days longer there is a ‘general agreement’ that babies can survive and therefore active management should be offered. I am sure this isn’t as cut and dry as I have read though and may be each individual hospital may have different regulations. The thing is young these cut off points are hard. I mean can you imagine going into early labour and the doctors refusing to give your baby treatment and therefore you watch them die in your arms despite being very much alive just struggling. I know there are laws and there has to be rules and cut off pints etc but seriously, I do think that these laws should be analysed. We should be able to write a longer more detailed complicated law that fits as many situations as possible so that parents aren’t suffering even more than they have to.
I guess we are living in a dream world though hey.
Please be aware then any information I have given has been taken from the websites I have provided. The rest is my own personal view. I am not saying that everything I have written is correct, it is knowledge I have from experiences and also from what I have read. Any questions surrounding a birth should be taken up with your local hospital.
Thank you

Categorised as Baby loss

By Admin

I am Mrs Shep aka Emma. Mum of boys. I suffer for FND and I also have dyslexia and dyspraxia. I chat about everything from baby loss and (sen) parenting to general life stuff. I even through in some meal ideas and recipes sometimes too!


  1. Sophia passed aged 23 weeks and 2 days. Luckily the memory box had a certificate which the hosputal filled in. This is my evidence, proof that she existed. Your right we still go through labour pains to deliver our precious ones; mat rights should be given despite gestation. Politics plays a part but putting that aside my daughter existed just like Ethan xxx

  2. Heartbrokenly stunned. I didn’t know so many babies were treatedcas non-existant due to gestation. How terribly sad.

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