- Category: Maternal Grief Maternal Grief
Loss of a baby at different stages
Although Australia's birth rate now stands at approximately 309,000 new births a year (ABS statistics, 2012), not all pregnancies result in a live healthy baby.
These are the grim statistics:
- 1 in every 4 pregnancies ends in miscarriage
- 1 baby in every 140 births will be stillborn (source: SIDS and Kids)
- 1 in every 100 families will experience the death a baby
- 9 children under age 4 die suddenly and unexpectedly every day (source: SIDS and Kids)
- Up to 60 people are affected by the death of one child
- Worldwide approximately 15 million babies are born too soon, and premature birth kills one baby every 30 seconds (source: National Premmie Foundation, Australia)
Miscarriage is the loss of a baby before 20 weeks gestation. An early miscarriage is in the first trimester (before 12 weeks) and a late miscarriage is in the second trimester (after 12 weeks). At this stage the baby might be referred to as an embryo or foetus and the loss can sometimes be labelled with the uncomplimentary terms of "threatened abortion" or "products of conception".
Miscarriage has been described as a silent pain, one that is unrecognised, downplayed by others and rarely acknowledged. As there is no requirement to issue a birth certificate or hold a funeral service before 20 weeks, this lack of recognition is difficult in the grieving process. It often isn't real to others because they may not have known about the pregnancy or if they did, it wasn't real to them as they did not form hopes and dreams around the baby or bond with the baby. The mother will think of these things all the time.
A stillbirth is defined as a baby who is born with no signs of life after 20 weeks gestation and if the gestation is unknown, a weight of 400g - however definitions may vary from state to state and between countries.
More than half of all stillbirths do not have an explainable cause (SIDS and Kids).
Neonatal death refers to the death of a baby who is alive at birth but who dies within the first 28 days of life (the neonatal period). SIDS and Kids states that more than half of these babies weigh less than 2000g at birth. Reasons are varied, such as congenital or genetic abnormalities, complications with the cord or placenta, or prematurity.
After 20 weeks gestation, a birth is required to be registered with the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages and a Certificate of Birth is issued.