Posted by: irishdad | April 24, 2010

Birth Certs

I just came across an article from a couple of weeks ago, via a link in Twitter.

It discusses a movement in Pennsylvania in the US to allow parents of stillborn children to have birth certs issued for them.

Thought provoking stuff. We had a painful time registering the death of our Littlegirl…in the same office at the same time that people were bringing their babies in to get birth certificates, but I’m not sure where I stand on giving birth certs to a stillborn child.

I can see how it would validate the child to the outside world as being more than a pregnancy that didn’t end well, and yet, if your baby is stillborn one of the most painful aspects is the fact that the child never drew so much as one breath.

Read the article and see what you think. It certainly strikes me as unfortunate that the issue is so politicised and appears to be being hijacked by so many other parties.



  1. In Florida, I am able to get a “certificate of birth” – I guess it certifies that I gave birth – but I have yet to send in the paperwork.

    I remember sitting on the hospital bed going over my discharge papers just a few hours after Maya was born. The nurse handed me a brochure with the instructions on how to get the certificate and said “I don’t know why anyone would actually need this but I have to give it to you anyway”. I guess in her eyes it was unnecessary. At the time I didn’t really register what she was saying but later I thought she was kind of a bitch for putting it that way.

    I guess I will eventually file the paperwork but I don’t think it will change the views of any outsiders any time soon. Lucky for them, they will never get it.

    Sorry for the long comment. Hope all is well with you and your family.

    • Hi Angie, I suppose when people have an attitude like that nurse it demonstrates why it is important that we are able to get some kind of paper in our hand. Our babies will always be valid for us, but it’s helpful when society and ones country acknowledges them as well.

      I hope all is well with you guys too.

  2. hmm difficult subject for I think it is a very personal matter on what people need, going through one of the most horrific experiences possible. I didn’t care about registering the birth of of my stillborn child during regular office hours at the “marriage, births and deaths registration office”. Registering a death is something vile for most people and yet life goes on for the living. And it smacks you right in the face at that office. Registering a stillbirth is horrible but I was going to the motions and in registering I had an opportunity to do something that made him real, gave me a chance to tell the world and the social worker and anybody who would listen at the time for that matter that he was there, for those few hours after giving birth and then handing his body over to the officials. He was the perfect little body of a life gone too early at the wrong time. For me I felt lucky that one can register the stillbirth/death in our country for I know in other parts of the world you don’t get even that.

    Sometimes I wish he had a full birth cert and a full, separate death cert. But yes, you’re right, he never took a single breath so one can argue he is not deserving of a full birth cert even though I did the whole sheebang of 26 hours of labour and actually did give birth to a fully grown, full term child. Sometimes people don’t validate his existence, because he never lived outside of me. But I have some photos where he looks the part and that usually shuts up anybody who questions his existence or my loss.

    I suppose it all depends whether or not people recognise him as being there and the system/society has to draw the line somewhere.
    But the entire argument is rather horrible and I can only mention the concept of the life and rights of the unborn child and then we are in a completely different arena.

    Like Angie said, lucky for most never to have to debate these finer details.

    Best wished and hope your well to baby, boy, Irish mam and dad.

    • I guess our society has come a long long way from the time when a baby that died was whipped off away from the mother and perhaps never seen again…and nobody was given any recognition. So yes, we are fortunate that we can get a cert, and that care practices have come on so much.

      I would not like to be in a position where the state gave no recognition to my child.

      I hope you are well and enjoying the spring.

  3. In Australia we get a birth certificate (with the word STILLBORN slapped across the top of it, just in case we forgot) but we don’t qualify for a death certificate. Because I guess if she didn’t live in the eyes of the world, then she never really died then did she?
    I don’t know if the certificate makes me feel any better or not, but I have it anyway. Tucked away in a box somewhere for safe keeping. Like you, I hate how this very sensitive topic has been so hijacked.

  4. I live in the U.S. and am not sure where I stand on this either, except to say that I wish this could simply be available to the parents who need it. My daughter was not full-term, and I wonder if that changes my perspective on the issue. We had no birth certificate or death certificate. She was born at 20 weeks and so legally she was just barely not a miscarriage. The hospital gave us certificate they made up themselves: a Certificate of Life, and wrote her name on it in nice calligraphy. Our wonderful midwife and two nurses witnessed it. In some ways that is enough for me. There were five of us there to witness to her. There was not much we could do beyond that.

    • Hi Jenni, I’m so sorry to learn about your daughter. I am glad to hear though that the hospital staff treated you, and her with respect. I think you are right and certs should be available to those parents who want them.

  5. Our daughter was born under 24 weeks, so we didnt qualify for a birth/death or stillbirth certificate. I found this really upsetting, my little girl who I pushed and shoved into this world, and who was tiny but perfectly formed does not exist as far as the State is concerned. When we found out we lost her I asked our consultant could they hold off inducing me until I passed the 24 week mark, it really mattered to me that I got some form of certificate, but he wouldnt.

    I recently looked up some family census forms from 1911. Some of my great grandparents lost children in infancy, and my parents didnt even know this, but they were acknowledged as a lost child because obviously they had lived. If birth certificates were issued, in years to come our children would be acknowledged as part of our families for future generations to see.

    • Daffodil Girl,

      Thanks for your comment. You have made an excellent point regarding the importance of recording our children for the future.

      I’m sorry to hear about your daughter. It is saddening that the state walks away without recording and acknowledging her as an individual….while at the same time being happy to include her in a body of statistical data, no doubt.

  6. We got a death certificate for our son Wren, but never a birth certificate, but that was only because we did a home birth and so hadn’t got one. He was born healthy but died 11 hours later due to a GBS infection. That was March 9th, 2010. It’s a little weird I guess, but I suppose to me the death certificate is enough, because you can’t die if you were never born, right?

    • Hi Josh,

      I’m so sorry to hear about Wren – whose name I love. March 9th feels so recent, I hope you guys are doing as well as can be expected. Surely when Wren was born at home he was entitled to a birth cert?

  7. Come here. Lets Chat

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: