The Births Deaths and Marriages Victoria have worked together with Sands and Western Australian artist, Till Heike to produce a beautiful commemorative certificate for parents to remember their babies lost before 20 weeks gestation.
The early pregnancy loss commemorative certificate allows parents the recognition of their baby's life, helping them to actualise their loss and acknowledge the grief of their little life lost.
Till Heike, the artist behind the certificate, used watercolours on birchwood and features a pair of helmeted honeyeaters, Victoria’s state bird, perching amongst the state flower and other native plants.
Of the artwork, Till described it to be 'like therapy' after having experienced the stillbirth of her daughter Claudia.
"With early pregnancy loss in particular, sometimes it can feel like we leave the hospital with nothing but paperwork.
"Parents might have imagined a long timeline for their child, right from the time that they saw that early pregnancy test ... it is especially important to provide ways to make memories, to validate their loss, and to normalise that connection that they have with their baby" says Till Heike. Victorian Attorney-General, Jill Hennessy, said the certificates were "a meaningful way to recognise this significant event" and thanked Ms Heike for "sharing her art and her experience in a way that will give so much comfort to others." In NSW and Queensland similar certificates already exist.
According to the Royal Women's Hospital, up to one in five women who know they are pregnant will have a miscarriage before 20 weeks but the rate is believed to be higher. The new certificate was a collaboration between SANDS Victoria and the registry.
Applying for the certificate
If you or someone you know has experienced pregnancy loss under 20 weeks, you can apply for the free commemorative certificate - here.
If you or someone you know has experienced pregnancy loss under 20 weeks and requires mental health support, please reach out to Sands Australia. Alternatively, we have a Resource library you can access with items like getting support, and how to help someone who is grieving.