What is a stillbirth?

A stillbirth is the death of a baby after 24 weeks of pregnancy before or during birth. Stillbirth is one of the most devastating experiences any family can go through. We are here to support families who are going through this very difficult time.

What is a stillbirth?

When a baby dies after 24 weeks of pregnancy and before or during birth, it is known as a stillbirth. Sadly, it happens in around 1 in 280 births in England.  

The loss of a baby before 24 weeks of pregnancy is classed as a miscarriage. We know that many people who have a late miscarriage (between 12-24 weeks of pregnancy) give birth to their baby and, understandably, feel that it should be called a stillbirth . But try to remember that this is just terminology for legal purposes. 

The death of a baby in the first 28 days of life is known as a neonatal death

We understand that there is overlap between the causes of stillbirth, neonatal death and late miscarriage and the grief this leads to for parents. A lot of the supportive information in this section is relevant to all parents suffering from the death of a baby in late pregnancy so it may be more helpful for you if you’ve been through a late miscarriage. But we do also have support and advice specifically about miscarriage if that is more useful for you. 

Support for you

The death of a baby is one of the most devastating experiences any family can go through. We are here to support families who are going through this very difficult time. We have worked with parents who have experienced stillbirth, their families and professionals who have supported them to develop supportive information to help parents who have suffered a stillbirth.

If you would like to talk to one of our Tommy’s midwives about stillbirth, they have experience talking about baby loss and will be able to talk to you about what you’re going through. You can call them for free on 0800 0147 800, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.  

Talking to other people who have experienced a stillbirth

There is a very supportive online community that brings together parents who have experienced baby loss. 

"When my son was stillborn, I couldn’t find anything to read about the mum’s personal experiences and what to expect... I needed something real, something I could relate to." 
Hannah Pontillo

All write movingly about their experiences of loss, life after loss and, in some cases, pregnancy and parenting after loss. Find online communities that support parents who have been through baby loss or preterm birth.

Tommy’s baby loss support group

We run a support group on Facebook for those who have suffered miscarriage, ectopic or molar pregnancy, stillbirth, loss after premature birth, neonatal death or termination for medical reasons. You can find out more and join Tommy’s Baby Loss Support group on Facebook

Tommy’s research into stillbirth

Our research into the causes of stillbirth is as vital as ever. In all too many cases when a baby is stillborn there is often no obvious cause. These baby’s deaths remain ‘unexplained’, which can be very hard for grieving parents who want to know why their baby has died. There is still a lack of research into the causes of pregnancy complications and loss, and that is why Tommy’s funds research into the causes of stillbirth, miscarriage and premature birth. Read more about Tommy’s stillbirth research

Together for change

Our ongoing campaign calls for those who have been affected by baby loss to come together, to support each other and to campaign for change. Read more about Together for Change.

  • MBRRACE-UK. Perinatal Mortality Surveillance Report. UK Perinatal Deaths for Births from January to December 2018. Available at: www.npeu.ox.ac.uk/assets/downloads/mbrrace-uk/reports/perinatal-surveillance-report-2018/MBRRACE-UK_Perinatal_Surveillance_Report_2018_-_final_v3.pdf 
  • Smith LK, Dickens J, Bender Atik R, Bevan C, Fisher J, Hinton L. Parents' experiences of care following the loss of a baby at the margins between miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal death: a UK qualitative study. BJOG. 2020 Jun;127(7):868-874.
Review dates
Reviewed: 11 February 2022
Next review: 11 February 2025