PARENTS who lose a child during the first 24 weeks of pregnancy can now be given a death certificate if they wish.

Laura Culpin has worked with one of the county's registrars to offer a death certificate as they recognise that every baby is special.

Babies born within the first 24 weeks of a pregnancy do not receive a lawful death certificate, so Mrs Culpin is working with registrars to offer an 'unofficial' one instead.

"The death of a baby before birth is no less a bereavement than any other death," said Mrs Culpin.

"The Births and Deaths Registration Act 1953 defines babies that are delivered, without signs of life, over 24 weeks gestation as stillborn.

"Due to this current legislation, the stillborn baby's death must be registered in the Stillborn Register by one or both parents (within six weeks), before a Stillbirth Certificate is issued.

"Babies born before 24 weeks do not receive a lawful death certificate.

"However, the county of Herefordshire acknowledges that every baby is special and there is an official Certificate of Acknowledgement for babies born before 24 weeks gestation for families who would like one."

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The new certificates come as Herefordshire observes Baby Loss Awareness Week.

Hereford Cathedral and the County Hospital have been lit up blue and pink to mark the week, which runs until Tuesday.

Now in its 17th year, the awareness week is being led by Sands, the stillbirth and neonatal death charity.

In Hereford, people are being invited to light a candle in remembrance of the life of their baby at Hereford Cathedral on Tuesday, October 15, at 7pm.

They are also invited to join staff and supporters of the Born Sleeping Appeal as they walk from Hereford County Hospital to the cathedral at 6pm, arriving in time for the candle lighting service at 7pm.