If your baby has died shortly after birth

If your baby has died shortly after birth, you might face financial strain on top of your 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 financial help.

There are certain people you’ll need to notify. The best way to do this is usually to phone or, where possible, email.

If you don’t feel able to phone, you might 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 might be able to take unpaid parental leave.

You might qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay while you’re off work for a maximum of 39 weeks – providing you’ve been working for long enough.

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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 employment contract.

A lot of employers offer compassionate leave to bereaved parents as part of their basic contract of employment or employee benefits.

If you aren’t on maternity or paternity leave and are unable to return to work for medical reasons, Statutory Sick Pay is paid for up to 28 weeks. This could be more if your contract of employment allows it.

Maternity Allowance

If you’re self-employed or haven’t been with your employer for long enough to qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay, you might qualify 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 (ESA).

To claim Maternity Allowance, Universal Credit or Employment and Support Allowance, contact your nearest Jobcentre Plus.

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Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay and Leave

If you’re employed in England, Scotland or Wales you have 56 weeks to take Parental Bereavement Leave or claim Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay through your employer. This starts from the date of the child’s death.

You can take two weeks leave in one block or as two separate blocks of one week.

The 56 weeks are split into 2 periods:

  • from the date of the child’s death or stillbirth to eight weeks after
  • nine to 56 weeks after the date of the child’s death or stillbirth.

You must give your employer notice before you take Parental Bereavement Leave.

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Child Benefit

You'll 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 that your baby has died.

Call the Child Benefit Office on 0300 200 3100 or go to the GOV.UK website

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

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Child Tax Credit

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

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

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

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Sure Start Maternity Grant

If you’re on a low income and receiving a qualifying benefit, your right to claim a Sure Start Maternity Grant isn’t affected.

Qualifying benefits include:

  • Income Support
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Universal Credit.

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:

  • you can contact your nearest Jobcentre Plus (or Jobs & Benefits Office if you live in Northern Ireland), or
  • download a claim form on the GOV.UK website
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Other benefits and entitlements

You’re entitled to free prescriptions for at least 12 months In England.

In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, prescriptions are free for everyone.

You’re also entitled to free NHS dental treatment until the certificate expires.

Ask your doctor or midwife for form FW8, which you fill in and they sign and send off for you.

You’ll get your exemption certificate in the post.

Your doctor or midwife 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.

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Registering your baby

You need to register your baby’s death within five days in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (eight days in Scotland).

You can do this by taking the death certificate to the Register of Births and Deaths.

You can register the birth at the same time if you haven’t already. The registrar will give you a form for the funeral director.

In most places, you’ll need to go to your local register office in England and Wales, or your local register office in Scotland.

You might be able to do this at the hospital. The hospital staff will tell you what you need to do and where to go.

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Making funeral arrangements

A baby who dies shortly after birth must by law be formally buried or cremated, although a funeral isn’t legally required.

If you live in England, Wales or Scotland, your local council won’t charge you fees for a standard burial or cremation of a child.

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Other fees, such a funeral director, flowers, coffin and memorial, will still need to be paid.

In England, there’s also a £300 contribution towards the price of a coffin, casket or shroud. This can be reclaimed by the funeral director – or, if you’re not using one, by yourself.

In Wales, there’s also a £500 contribution towards the funeral and other related costs such as floral tributes, plaques.

If you’re not using a funeral director, you can claim for some funeral expenses.

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The coronavirus outbreak has imposed serious restrictions on funerals, which makes organising a meaningful ceremony seem difficult. You can find out more about what you can do on the Quaker Social Action website

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Free printed guides

Our free printed guides give you clear, unbiased information. They're a good starting point and can help you make informed choices.

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