Nicola Sturgeon has said her grief over her miscarriage will stay with her “forever”, as she announced a scheme that will allow women in Scotland to apply for certificates formally recognising their lost babies.
Under the Scottish Government initiative, women who have experienced a pregnancy or baby loss prior to 24 weeks will be able to apply for a commemorative certificate if they would like it to be recorded.
The scheme, which will begin this summer and is intended to give recognition and comfort to those who want to record their loss, will be voluntary and free of charge.
Those who apply will have their loss recorded in a Memorial Book, which will be produced jointly by the Scottish Government and National Records of Scotland, the official body responsible for recording births, deaths and other population data.
There will be no legal requirement on women to register any baby losses. To be eligible the loss must have taken place in Scotland, or those applying must be living in the country.
There is no requirement for medical evidence to be submitted as evidence of loss, and historical applications will be accepted. A person can also register more than one pregnancy loss, although each one will require a separate application.
Ms Sturgeon said: “The loss of a pregnancy or a baby is always painful. I have spoken in the past about my personal experience of miscarriage, and I know the sense of grief will stay with me and my husband forever.
“I also know that we would have drawn comfort at the time if there had been a way for us to mark the loss and formally recognise the child we were grieving.”
She said the Memorial Book and certificate scheme would give parents the chance “to commemorate their loss with a physical record, and to have their child recognised”.
She said she hoped the initiative would help to “bring comfort to those experiencing the pain of baby loss” and “break the silence and stigma around the loss of a pregnancy or a baby that sadly still exists in our society”.
Ms Sturgeon, who is married to SNP chief executive Peter Murrell, has previously spoken about her experience of losing her baby in 2011, at the age of 40.
She said she had decided to speak about it to “challenge some of the assumptions and judgements that are still made about women, especially in politics, who don’t have children”.