New laws bring much needed relief and recognition to parents of stillborn children.

Losing a child is perhaps the most traumatic experience for any family. One state government is making a small step toward easing that pain.

When Mel Worthington lost her baby at 13 weeks, she was surprised by how much the child had formed.

“I wasn’t prepared for how developed he was. He was a fully formed little human being. We would have named him Blake,” she told Perth Now“Once you reach the second trimester, that baby is fully formed with fingers, toes, organs and a heart beat. How can it not be a baby?”

Disturbed by the lack of ceremony surrounding the death of foetuses, Ms Worthington from Canning Vale in Western Australia made it her mission to improve this agonising experience for other women.

Thanks to her work, the WA government has announced it will now recognise babies stillborn prior to 20 weeks. Previously a stillborn baby had to reach a gestation period of 20 weeks or weigh 400 grams to be registered with the state’s department of births, deaths and marriages.

stillborn babies recognised
Image: iStock.

Now, parents who miscarry between 12-19 weeks old will also be eligible to apply for a recognition of loss certificate.

“I acknowledge the emotional trauma and devastation which early pregnancy loss brings,” WA’s Attorney General, Michael Mischin, told The Guardian.


“The registry has now amended their procedures so that if eligible parents choose to do so, they may apply for a certificate which acknowledges their baby’s life. I hope this new measure will offer a degree of support and comfort to those who have suffered early pregnancy loss.”

stillborn babies recognised
Parents of stillborn or miscarried children from 12 weeks are eligible to apply for recognition. Image: iStock.

Sands — a support organisation for women who have experienced miscarriage or stillbirth — has also been lobbying the Attorney General and the department of Births, Deaths and Marriages for this change, and is overjoyed by the news.

“Anything that can help a parent on the grief journey is certainly a positive stance.” Janina Faulkner, President of Sands WA told Mamamia.

While the certificate isn’t a legal document, Ms Faulkner believes it is an invaluable piece of memorabilia for grieving families.

“Creating memories is a vital step in dealing with the grief, and this will certainly help that process along,” she said.

“It is difficult for parents going through this [and] not having something tangible, acknowledging they’ve actually had a baby.

“It really helps talking to family and friends with something they can show.”

If you need support call 1300 0 SANDS (1300 0 72637) now.  Support is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

Read more:

New research: Babies can survive outside the womb from 22 weeks.

NSW now formally recognises miscarriages.

What you should and shouldn’t say to a friend who has miscarried.

Parents share photos of their stillborn daughter.

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