Parents who experience early pregnancy loss can apply for commemorative certificate in Victoria

Photo: Early pregnancy loss can now be recognised with a commemorative certificate from the Registry of Births, Deaths ...
Photo: Early pregnancy loss can now be recognised with a commemorative certificate from the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages Victoria.  

Around one in five pregnancies end in loss before 20 weeks. 

It is a heartbreaking situation for parents to find themselves in, and many often feel completely isolated in their grief - with their loss not formally recognised as a birth or death.

Victorians who have experienced the loss of a baby in early pregnancy can now apply for a commemorative certificate from the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages.

The decision was announced by Premier Dan Andrews on his Facebook page, in a heartfelt post. 

"It's not something that's talked about much – nor is it formally recognised as either a birth or death," he wrote. "And those who've experienced early pregnancy loss often find themselves dealing with it alone, with no real way of expressing their grief.

"This won't be everyone's choice."

"But hopefully it'll help bereaved parents mourn the child they never got to meet."

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Posted by Dan Andrews on  Sunday, 29 November 2020

The commemorative certificate was designed by Till Heike – an artist who's been involved in stillbirth support since experiencing multiple early pregnancy losses and losing her daughter, Claudia, in 2014.

It features a pair of helmeted honeyeaters,Victoria's state bird, and the state flower.

Heike admits that designing the certificates was incredibly important and something that 'immediately resonated' with her. 

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"With early pregnancy loss in particular, sometimes it can feel like we leave the hospital with nothing but paperwork," she said in an official video.

"Parents might have imagined a long timeline for their child, right from the time that they saw that early pregnancy test - and, because of the enormity of the loss they're trying to process, it is especially important to provide ways to make memories, to validate their loss, and to normalise that connection that they have with their baby."

She said they wanted to achieve a 'very contemporary' feel and warm aesthetic appeal with the certificate's design.

"To be able to provide these certificates to parents is such an important way to acknowledge their baby, and to acknowledge their loss," Teike concluded the video. 

Comments flooded in on the Victorian premier's post, with parents overwhelmed and grateful for the news.

"When I lost my daughter I couldn't get a birth or death certificate because she was born too early. I labored for 5 hours. I mourned just like any other parent that lost their child but my child wasn't recognised. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. And thank you from my daughter Ella for recognising that she was born still," said one. 

"As the husband of a wife who had back to back miscarriages, I think this is incredibly important. This very common thing that nobody talks about. Having it out on the open would make it easier for women (and partners) to have avenues to express their pain of loss. And have fewer women wondering if there was something they could have done. Sometimes nature just says not this time."

"I've said this to my husband that one of the hardest things is that we're not be able to share or really talk about the beautiful little ones that you lose. I felt proud to hold and meet one of my angels. This is a lovely gesture. Thank you."

"This truly an amazing thing. I only wish it was around 29 years ago when I lost my son. You leave the hospital with nothing, no child and recognition that you even gave birth to a child. This will make a real difference to many grieving parents. Thank you for thinking about what we go through.  [💜]

Photo: The certificate

Photo: The certificate features artwork from artist Till Heike

The certificate is available free of charge. Similar certificates are already available in some other states.

For more information, see early pregnancy loss commemorative certificate.