Balcombe mum’s plea for any baby to have birth and death certificates

Joanne James and her partner Liam Elphick
Joanne James and her partner Liam Elphick

A heartbroken mum is trying to make it possible for any baby to have a birth and death certificate after labour.

Joanne James, 24, from Balcombe, went through the tragedy of losing her baby girl Ella seconds after giving birth on August 7, when she went into labour early at 21 weeks and three days.

Joanne and Liam

Joanne and Liam

The current law in England is that in order to file a birth and death certificate the child must be born after 24 weeks of pregnancy.

Joanne told the Middy: “We were refused the certificates because Ella did not breath and they classified her as dead.

“I believed that she was alive for a few seconds as I heard her heartbeat.

“But I spoke to someone afterwards who went through the same thing and they told me that if she was alive she would have got the certificates.

I was heartbroken to realise that her short life would not be recognised legally on this earth with a birth and death certificate.

Joanne James

“I was heartbroken to realise that her short life would not be recognised legally on this earth with a birth and death certificate. This option should be available to parents.

“No matter the week of pregnancy any parents of a laboured birth should have the option to file for a birth and death certificate.”

The 24-year-old, who works as a nanny, said her and her partner Liam Elphick, aged 22, a painter and decorator, from Brighton, want to help other parents.

“If there is anything that we can do to help other parents in the future having to go through this heartbreak,” she said.

“We are doing it for Ella because apart from us and our family, she has not been acknowledged or recognised. We want her life to make a difference.”

The NHS currently offers a hospital-based commemorative certification, however this is not a legal document or proof of life and death, Joanne said.

The couple have set up a petition in a bid for the law to be changed. So far it has gained more than 2,000 signatures.

At 10,000 signatures the Government has to respond to the petition and at 100,000 signatures, the petition has to be considered for debate in parliament.

Joanne said the response and support from people in the community has been ‘amazing’.

She said the petition has ‘kept her going’ through the heartbreak.

She added: “The body has a way of coping somehow. It is really sad what we have had to go through.”

To see the petition, visit https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/227137.

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