Stillbirth refers to the death of a baby after 24 weeks of pregnancy but before the birth.

Sometimes the death of a baby can be discovered during a routine hospital appointment; some women say they just knew, and went to hospital to have it confirmed.

If your baby has died, or is found to have a condition that is incompatible with life, it is a shocking and devastating experience, however you find out. It is very important to have someone there to be with you and support you at this time.

Maternity benefits and stillbirth

Maternity leave

If your baby is stillborn, you will still be entitled to maternity leave as if your baby had been born alive. You will also qualify for maternity leave if your baby is born alive at any point during your pregnancy and subsequently dies. To find out more about Maternity Leave. 

Maternity pay

If your baby is stillborn from or after the 24th week of pregnancy, you will still be entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) if you meet all the qualifying conditions. You will need to either give your employer a notification for the registration of a stillbirth or a certificate of stillbirth. To find out more about Maternity pay.

Maternity allowance

If you are eligible for Maternity Allowance (MA), you may still be able to qualify if your baby is stillborn. You can’t claim for both SMP and MA, though.  To find out more about maternity allowance click here.

Getting the support you need

As you struggle to cope with the overwhelming feelings, your hormones will also be making you feel very weepy. You may also experience physical reactions, such as producing breast milk, which can be very hard to deal with. Each individual reacts differently to grief and for some women experiencing stillbirth, grief may be delayed. This is normal.

Support is very important, and even when you have your partner, friends and family around you, you may find it helps to have someone else to talk to. You can phone the Tommy’s PregnancyLine on 0800 0147 800 or contact one of the organisations listed here. 

Your colleagues may want to be supportive but might not know how to react. If it helps you to talk about your loss, do so. If you don’t want to talk about it, have a quiet word with your boss or one of your colleagues and ask them to let others in your workplace know.

You may find you want to return to work as soon as possible to try and establish your routine again, or you may want to take as much time off as possible to help you come to terms with your loss. Do whatever feels right for you. Bear in mind, though, that if you return to work early, it’s important to still allow yourself time to grieve for your baby.

Click here to find out more about stillbirth.