Stillbirth - information and support

A stillbirth is the death of a baby after 24 weeks of pregnancy but before or during birth.

What is a stillbirth?

When a baby dies after 24 weeks of pregnancy and before or during birth, it is known as a stillbirth.  

The loss of a baby before 24 weeks of pregnancy is classed as a miscarriage. However, this is simply terminology for legal purposes. Many mums who have a late miscarriage also give birth to their baby and, understandably, feel that it should be called a stillbirth.

In 2018, there were 2,943 stillbirths in the UK. This means that 1 in every 250 births ended in a stillbirth. That's 8 babies every day. Our research into the causes of stillbirth is as vital as ever.

Much of the supportive information below is relevant to all parents suffering from the death of a baby in late pregnancy, however we also have support and advice on miscarriage here.

Causes of stillbirth

Preventing stillbirth

Stillbirth symptoms and risks

Read more stillbirth statistics here.

Support after a stillbirth

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. We have worked with parents who have experienced stillbirth, their families and professionals who have supported them to develop supportive information below to help parents who have suffered a stillbirth.

Emotional support for parents

If you would like to talk to a midwife about any aspect of stillbirth or afterwards, the midwives on the Tommy's helpline have experience in talking about pregnancy loss and have had bereavement training. Phone 0800 0147 800. The line is open Monday to Friday, 9-5pm.

Giving birth to a stillborn baby - what to expect

Spending time with your stillborn baby

Creating memories of your stillborn baby

Coping with grief - for parents

Supporting each other as a couple

Coping with the physical effects of a stillbirth

Supporting your baby's siblings

Returning to work after a stillbirth

Emotional support for others

Family, friends and colleagues of those who have suffered a stillbirth watch helplessly, while also often dealing with their own grief. These pages below offer support.

Advice and support for grandparents

How to support a friend or family member who has suffered a stillbirth

How to support someone at work who has suffered a stillbirth

Practical support

When your baby dies, you will be given lots of information and there will be practicalities to take care of. When you’re shocked and distressed, this can be particularly difficult to manage and you might struggle to digest the information and understand what’s happening next.

Deciding whether or not to have a post mortem

Registering your baby

Planning the funeral

Medical terms and definitions

Rights and benefits

Your postnatal care

Peer support

A very supportive community has built up over the last few years around pregnancy loss. The page below lists a number of blogs and social accounts from people who have suffered pregnancy loss/es or preterm birth.

"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 pregnancy/parenting after loss.

Online communities supporting those who have gone through baby loss or preterm birth

Pregnancy ads

At Tommy's we often hear from women and men who are bombarded with ads promoting maternity and baby products after loss, which can be really distressing.

Find out how to stop pregnancy ads

Your next pregnancy

Pregnancy following a stillbirth is a time of anxiety as well as joy. There is some advice here on the care you should get and how you can take care of yourself. 

Trying for a baby after a stillbirth

Pregnant again after a stillbirth

A note about Tommy's

In all too many cases when a baby is stillborn there is 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

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 it here.

Read more on stillbirth


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    Last reviewed on August 1st, 2016. Next review date August 1st, 2019.

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    Please note that these comments are monitored but not answered by Tommy’s. Please call your GP or maternity unit if you have concerns about your health or your baby’s health.
    • By Patricia (not verified) on 16 Dec 2019 - 16:04

      I gave birth to my full term stillborn son in 1972. I did not know beforehand that my baby had died (the staff did). He was taken away immediately & I never saw him. He was strangled with the umbilical cord. I had no counselling & no one spoke to me about it. I am very happy that things are done differently these days as I was heartbroken & had to rely on my husband who was also grieving. I had my son Fabrice one year later by caesarean,but have never forgotten this awful experience.

    • By Lisa (not verified) on 3 Feb 2019 - 08:45

      I had to give birth to my beautiful daughter too early, she had a condition she wouldn't survive and I had no choice! It's been 2 years and that grief is only just hitting me, I've been so strong for so long now I'm falling apart!

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 14 Feb 2019 - 15:33

      Hi Lisa, Thank you for your comment.

      We are so sorry to hear about the loss of Matilda, these past 2 years must of been so difficult for you and your family. If you feel like you need to talk to anyone then you can always call the Tommy's Midwives on 0800 0147 800 Monday to Friday 9am-5pm and we can talk through anything you would like to discuss. It may be advisable for you to speak to your GP to see if he can refer you for some bereavement counselling, if you haven't processed your feelings and it is only coming to the surface now then it is important that you get the right support through this time and the support is there if you need it. Be kind to yourself and take care, Tommy's Midwives x

    • By Freya Tatters (not verified) on 6 Mar 2017 - 15:59

      Last year my mum had to go through horrible events of a still born and that still born was called James.
      I'm only 10 and I'm the youngest and wanted to have a younger sibling.

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 6 Mar 2017 - 16:18

      Hi Freya. I am very sorry to hear a bout the loss of your baby brother last year. That is very sad and must have been very difficult for you and your family. I hope that you are able to talk to your mum and dad about this and how it has made you feel.
      Look after yourself and your family.

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 24 Oct 2016 - 09:07

      We are so sorry to hear this happened to you. We send our love and condolences.

    • By Rowena (not verified) on 23 Oct 2016 - 19:45

      Sept 9'2016 I was pregnant in 31 weeks and 2 days and suddenly feel that the Baby movements was decreasing and my husband drove me rush to the Hospital and when resche there it was found it that Baby was no more heartbeat.
      I and my husband were schoked and Completely frustrated for what happened in our life. We Kept hugging and crying each other.really doesn't knew what to do. Terrible!!! Was dreadful for us.
      Sept 7,2016The Baby born that umbilical cord wrapped tightly in his neck twice and bad to know that doctors never saw it from ultrasound.And even the last 3 times ultrasound in the hHospital.

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