Your Rights and Obligations or Decisions When Your Baby Has Been Born Still or Died Soon After Birth
States and Territories may have varying requirements around registering a birth so check with your hospital about these.
The birth of a stillborn baby or of a baby who dies in the early neonatal period must be registered with the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages and a certificate of birth is issued when the required fee is paid. As with any death, the baby’s body must be buried, cremated or placed in a mausoleum.
A baby born prior to 20 weeks’ gestation is required to be registered if he or she was born alive, or weighs more than 400g. Your health practitioners will give you the relevant documents.
Mothers of stillborn babies are still entitled to claim the Centrelink Maternity Allowance. You may also be able to claim further benefits if the baby was born live, but dies shortly after. Check with your local Centrelink for further information.
Naming Your Baby
Choosing a name for your baby is important. This can be difficult if you are unsure of your baby’s gender but there are many unisex names that can be chosen. Even if you are not required to register your baby’s birth, it may help you and your family and friends to call your baby by name. Naming certificates are available from Red Nose Grief and Loss. Some religions offer baptism or blessing for babies who have died. There may be a social worker or pastoral care worker at your hospital who can assist you to make these arrangements or you can contact Red Nose Grief and Loss for assistance 1300 308 307.
This article was prepared using extracts from Stillbirth and Neonatal death1. The full text is available online or contact Red Nose Grief and Loss Services on 1300 308 307 for a printed version.
Last reviewed: 23/9/21
- Ford, D., Richardson, R., Robertson, S-E., Stammers, R., Oxlade, E., Carter, J. & SIDS and Kids. (2016). Stillbirth and Neonatal death: A Booklet By and for Parents whose Baby is Stillborn or Dies soon after Birth. Malvern, Vic.: SIDS and Kids. (Original work published 2004 entitled Treasured Babies).