Scotland to introduce baby loss memorial book

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced that a voluntary memorial book for parents in Scotland who have experienced baby loss prior to 24 weeks will launch this summer, with a commemorative certificate recognising the loss also available.

Nicola Sturgeon talked about her own experience of early pregnancy loss as she announced the new scheme on Tuesday 14 March.  

At Tommy’s we understand how important it is for those who experience baby loss at any stage in pregnancy to have their baby acknowledged and remembered. Like the forthcoming introduction of voluntary pregnancy loss certificates in England announced in the Women’s Health Strategy last year, memorialising a much-loved baby in this way will bring comfort to many. 

The emotional comfort that pregnancy loss certificates and a memorial book can bring is important, but we must also have official recording of miscarriage data by health services – something we have been calling for through our Miscarriage Matters campaign.  

At present, there is no official recording of loss before 24 weeks, unlike with stillbirths, preterm births, or neonatal death where data is collected and reported on an annual basis by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) in England and Wales, and by National Records of Scotland. 

This means the scale and impact of miscarriage is poorly understood, and we cannot set national targets to reduce the number of miscarriages which happen. It also means we cannot tell if the support being put in place to prevent loss is working. 

Currently many hospitals and GPs record when miscarriages take place but there is not a standard way of doing this or a way to bring together the information. 

Tommy’s Chief Executive Kath Abrahams says:  

Miscarriage remains a hidden problem, despite the fact 1 in 5 women will experience early pregnancy loss. For someone with the profile and influence of the Scottish First Minister to speak out about her own miscarriage in 2011 and explain that her grief will never leave her is such a powerful statement in breaking the silence around baby loss. It also illustrates exactly why reform of miscarriage care is so vital: loss at any stage of pregnancy can have a lifelong devastating impact. 

Following the launch of our Lancet Miscarriage Matters campaign in 2021, Tommy’s has been working with the Scottish Government to transform the way miscarriage care and support are delivered. We’re also working together on an information package to make sure anyone who sadly has a miscarriage will know what care to expect and where to go for support. 

Kath Abrahams continues:

The Scottish Government are making positive steps forward to create a miscarriage care model that is compassionate and dignified, while also collecting the information we know is needed to continue improving outcomes for parents. 

Tommy’s is delighted to be working so closely with the Scottish Government to change the miscarriage story, but we are clear that there is so much more that needs to be done across the UK. We continue to fund research to find new tests and treatments, and campaign to make sure every family can access good care and support.