Registering a stillbirth
A stillbirth is the death or loss of a baby before or during delivery. The baby must have had a gestational age of at least 24 weeks or weighed at least 500 grams (1lb 1.6oz).
Experiencing the loss of your baby is extremely difficult and a very emotional time for you, your family and friends. The HSE provides information on stillbirth, including possible causes and what happens after the diagnosis of a stillbirth. The Pregnancy and Infant Loss Ireland website has information, advice and details of supports available for parents that experience a stillbirth.
Stillbirth is different to miscarriage. A miscarriage can occur at any stage of a pregnancy, up until 24 weeks. When a baby lives for only a few hours or days after birth their death is referred to as a neonatal death.
In Ireland, all stillbirths must be registered by signing the Stillbirths Register. A stillbirth may be registered in any HSE Civil Registration Service.
To register the stillbirth, you will need a signed medical certificate including:
- The baby's weight and gestational age
- The name and address of where the stillbirth took place
You can get the signed medical certificate from the doctor, midwife or medical practitioner who attended the birth or examined the baby.
If a stillbirth is not registered within 12 months, the hospital, midwife or medical practitioner who attended the birth may be asked to register it.
If the stillbirth happened before 1995
If you wish to register a stillbirth that happened before 1 January 1995, you will need specific evidence that the stillbirth occurred. This evidence could be a written statement from your hospital, nursing home, medical practitioner or midwife, but the registrar may accept other forms of evidence.
Again, the stillbirth can only be registered if the baby weighed at least 500 grams (1lb 1.6oz) or had a gestational age of at least 24 weeks.
How to register a stillbirth
If you are the parent/s of a stillborn baby, you must register their stillbirth by signing the Stillbirths Register at any Civil Registration Service. You will need to show photographic ID and written evidence that the stillbirth occurred.
When you sign the Stillbirths Register, the registrar will give you a stillbirth certificate. If you would like an additional stillbirth certificate at a later date, you can order a stillbirth certificate online from the HSE.
If your baby was stillborn in hospital, the hospital staff will help you to complete a Birth Notification Form (Form BNF/01). If the stillbirth happened at home, the midwife or doctor will do this.
The Birth Notification Form is completed with the baby’s:
- Time, date and place of stillbirth
- Weight and gestational age
- Personal Public Service number (PPSN) – this will be allocated at registration
- Forename(s) and surname
The form also includes the mother’s:
- Forename(s) and surname
- Birth surname
- Previously used surnames (if any)
- Normal occupation
- Normal address at the date of birth
- Date of birth
- Civil status
- Personal Public Service number (PPSN)
- Mother’s birth surname (the baby’s maternal grandmother’s surname)
Similar information may be entered for the father.
When the form has been completed, it will be sent to a Civil Registration Office to tell the registrar of the stillbirth.
Then, you should attend a Civil Registration Service in person and sign the Stillbirths Register.
You will need to bring photographic ID and written evidence of the stillbirth (such as the signed medical certificate stating the weight and gestational age) with you.
A signed medical certificate, which you can get from the doctor, midwife or medical practitioner who attended the birth or examined the baby, is free of charge.
Before the Civil
Registration Act 2004 came into effect on 5 December 2005, a stillbirth
could only be registered in the Registrar's District in which it took place. A
stillbirth can now be registered in any district, regardless of where it took