If your baby has died shortly after birth

If your baby has died shortly after birth, many bereaved families may face financial strain on top of their grief. It’s important to know what you’re entitled to and who to talk to.

What benefits and entitlements could you claim?

If your baby dies within four weeks of being born, you’re entitled to much the same financial help as other families who have had a new baby.

You will need to tell a few key people what’s happened. The best way to do this is usually to phone or, where possible, email. If you don’t feel able to phone, you may be able to get a relative or close friend to make some of the calls for you.

Maternity pay and leave

You’re entitled to a total of 52 weeks leave. You can’t get this if you have a child through surrogacy, but you may be able to take unpaid parental leave.

You may be eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay while you’re off work for a maximum of 39 weeks (providing you’ve been working for long enough). You must make your claim within 28 days of your baby’s death.

Talk to your employer about what they can offer you or check your contract of employment. Most employers offer compassionate leave to bereaved parents as part of their basic contract of employment or employee benefits.

Maternity Allowance

If you’re self-employed or haven’t been with your employer for long enough to qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay, you may be eligible for Maternity Allowance.

This is paid by the government rather than your employer. If you can’t get Maternity Allowance, you might be able to get Employment and Support Allowance.

To claim Maternity Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance, contact your Jobcentre Plus or, if you live in Northern Ireland, your Jobs and Benefits Office.

Child Benefit

You will get full Child Benefit for the period from the birth until eight weeks after your baby died.

If you’ve already made a claim for Child Benefit, you’ll need to tell the Child Benefit Office (0300 200 3100) that your baby has died.

If you haven’t made a claim yet, you must do so within three months of the birth of your baby to get the full amount.

Find out more about Child Benefit if a child dies on the GOV.UK website

Child Tax Credit

You may also be able to claim tax credits until eight weeks after your baby died.

If you haven’t made a claim, you should do so within one month.

If you’re already receiving tax credits for your baby, you need to tell the Tax Credits Office (0345 300 3900) within one month of your loss.

Find out more about Child Tax Credit

Sure Start Maternity Grant

If you’re on a low income and receiving a qualifying benefit (like Income Support or income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance), your right to claim a Sure Start Maternity Grant isn’t affected.

You must claim the grant within 11 weeks of the baby’s due date or within three months after the baby’s birth.

To claim the Sure Start Maternity Grant:

Other benefits and entitlements

You’re entitled to free prescriptions and NHS dental treatment for at least 12 months.

Ask your doctor or midwife for form FW8, which you fill in and they sign and send off for you. You’ll receive your exemption certificate in the post.

They can also help you with the Healthy Start programme if you’ve been claiming vouchers. You won’t get any more vouchers but you can use any you’ve already received.

Find out more about Free prescriptions and NHS dental care in pregnancy

Registering your baby

Your baby’s birth must be registered within 42 days in England and Wales, or within 21 days in Scotland.

In most places you will need to go to your local register office, but you may be able to do this at the hospital. The hospital staff will tell you what you need to do and where to go.

Registering your baby in Northern Ireland

Registration is not compulsory in Northern Ireland, but you can register a stillbirth at any District Registrar’s office within three months if you choose to.

When you register the stillbirth, the Registrar will give you a formal certificate.

Find out more about registering a stillbirth on the nidirect website

Making funeral arrangements

A baby that dies shortly after birth must by law be formally buried or cremated although a funeral is not legally required.

Many hospitals will offer to arrange a funeral, burial or cremation for you free of charge or you can make your own arrangements with or without a funeral director.

Most funeral directors offer a simple funeral service for babies free of charge.

Find out more about funerals on the Sands website

If you’re on a low income, the Social Fund may be able to help with any funeral expenses.

Find out more about Funeral Payments on the GOV.UK website