Baby Loss Awareness Week: Support available to parents

MPs are debating in Parliament the issue of stillbirth, miscarriage and other forms of baby loss.

Conservative MP Antoinette Sandbach, who lost her five-day-old son Sam in 2009, opened the session after describing baby loss as a "silent killer" which has been "brushed under the carpet".

She described the stillbirth rate in Britain, 3,600 a year (or 1 in 300), as "really poor" compared to other countries in the EU.

The debate coincides with Baby Loss Awareness Week - a drive by several charities to raise awareness in the UK.

Now ITV News looks at the what happens in the event of a stillbirth and the various support networks available to parents.

This week is Baby Loss Awareness Week Credit: PA

What happens immediately after the event of a stillbirth?

  • At the hospital parents have the choice to see and hold their baby. Photographs, mementos, locks of hair, foot and hand prints can all be taken. Parents may also name their baby

  • All of these decisions are yours

Bereavement support

  • Parents may be introduced to a bereavement support officer or a bereavement midwife

  • Bereavement officers can help with any paperwork that needs to be completed and explain choices you can make about your baby's funeral

Finding the cause of a stillbirth

  • Parents will be offered tests to find the cause of a stillbirth

  • It is up to you whether you would like to be tested

  • Examinations include: blood tests; tests of umbilical cord, membranes and placenta; test for infection; thyroid function test; genetic tests

Parents may see their babies and investigate the cause of death Credit: PA


  • A post-mortem is an examination of your baby's body, which can provide information on cause of death

  • This cannot go ahead without your consent

Registering a stillbirth

  • By law, stillborn babies have to be formally registered

  • In England and Wales, this must be done within 42 days of your baby's birth, and in Scotland within 21 days

  • In Northern Ireland, you don't have to register a stillbirth but you can if you want to, as long as it's within one year of the birth

Many support groups are available for bereaved parents Credit: PA

What after support is available for parents?

Stillbirths can be emotionally traumatic for both parents as well as other family members.

Many people experience feelings of guilt or anxiety following the loss of their baby, while others can feel depressed or develop post-traumatic stress.

  • Support groups

Sands, the stillbirth and neonatal death charity, provides support for anyone affected by the death of a baby.

The charity runs a helpline, provides information and support literature, and funds research into the causes of stillbirth.

You can call the confidential helpline on 020 7436 5881, or email Their helpline is open from 9.30am to 5.30pm, Monday to Friday. It's also open later on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, from 6pm to 10pm.

Tommy's spends £1.6 million a year on research into pregnancy problems and provides pregnancy health information to parents.

It funds four maternal and fetal research centres across the UK.

The Mariposa Trust is a charity which supports anyone affected by the loss of a child at any stage of pregnancy, birth or infancy.

It provides remembrance services at Cathedrals and Minsters all over the country, and reaches more than 50,000 people a week through its support service.

  • Self-help groups

There are many other self-help groups in the UK for bereaved parents and their families.

Support groups in your area can be found here.

  • Specific groups

Some support groups are for women whose stillbirth has a specific cause.

These include Action on Pre-eclampsia (APEC), ICP support and Group B Strep Support.