A stillborn child is legally defined as a child born after the 24th week of pregnancy who did not show any signs of life at any time after being born. Registering the baby allows parents to have their child officially named and acknowledged.

If a child is born alive – before or after the 24th week – but dies shortly afterwards, the event is registered in a slightly different way. The register office will be able to advise you on this.

Contact the Portsmouth register office by email registrars@portsmouthcc.gov.uk or call 023 9282 9041 to make an appointment with a registrar. The address is Milldam House, Burnaby Road, Portsmouth, PO1 3AF. Opening hours are 9am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday.

Where and when to register a stillbirth

The stillbirth should be registered within 42 days (six weeks) and cannot be registered more than three months after it occurred.

Stillbirths should be registered in the district the baby was delivered. This means that stillborn babies delivered at both Queen Alexandra Hospital and St. Mary’s Hospital should be registered at Portsmouth register office.

If it is more convenient, you can go to any register office in England and Wales, and they will pass the information to Portsmouth register office for registration. If you register at another office, certificates will be posted out to you rather than issued immediately.

You can make an appointment to see a registrar as soon as you have the medical certificate from the hospital, doctor or midwife. If no medical certificate is available because no medical professional was in attendance, contact the register office for advice.

Who can register a stillbirth?

Either parent can register the birth if they are  married to each other at the time of the stillbirth or conception.

Here are the options If the parents are not married to each other:

  • For the father’s details are to be entered in the register, both parents should sign the stillbirth register together
  • If the father is unable to go to the register office with the mother, but his details are still to be included, he can make a statutory declaration (on a form we supply) in front of a solicitor or other person able legally to witness an oath, acknowledging he is the parent of the child. The mother takes the statutory declaration to the registrar
  • If the mother is unable to go to the register office with the father, she may make a statutory declaration acknowledging the father’s paternity (on a form we supply) which the father takes to the registrar.

If the father’s particulars are not recorded in the stillbirth register, it may be possible for the stillbirth to be re-registered to include his details at a later date.

Although the majority of stillbirths are registered by parents, sometimes neither the mother nor the father are able to attend. In these exceptional cases, the register office can advise how registration can be done.

What information is recorded about a stillbirth?

The following details are recorded:

  • name or names the parents wish to give the child
  • sex of the baby
  • date and place of the stillbirth
  • cause of stillbirth (if known), which is on the medical certificate issued to parents
  • name, occupation, birthplace and address of the parent or parents are also recorded.

A Certificate of Registration is issued as proof that the registration has taken place and this is a legal document containing minimal personal information. There is also the option to purchase the full stillbirth certificate.

Once the registration is complete, usually in about half an hour, the parents are also given a white form which allows funeral arrangements to be finalised. This white form should be given to the hospital authorities or funeral director, whichever is organising the funeral.

There is more information on Gov.uk about registering a stillbirth, as well as links to support organisations.