National Perinatal Pathology Service
Alert Level 3/2 - Perinatal pathology investigations continue as normal, nationwide. If there is any change to our service availability we will ensure that all stakeholders are informed, promptly. Referrers are encouraged to use the usual referral process for your DHB, and your perinatal pathology requirements will be discussed on a case by case basis. We have full staff capacity and our service remains “business as usual”.
The National Perinatal Pathology Service provides non-coronial post-mortems, including internal, external and placenta examination in the following situations:
- stillbirths and terminations of pregnancy from approximately 14 weeks gestation to term for fetal abnormality, high-risk pregnancy, terminations and intrauterine deaths
- neonatal deaths (up to 28 days).
The National Perinatal Pathology Service is whānau-centred. You have the right to be asked if you would like a post-mortem examination, and a non-coronial post-mortem examination cannot happen without your consent.
A non-coronial perinatal post-mortem examination can be an important step in understanding why your baby or babies have died. It can be a daunting and sometimes confronting procedure to consider.
Understanding the post-mortem examination, the different types of examinations available, and the benefits may help to overcome any concerns you have and help you decide if a post-mortem is likely to be helpful in understanding the cause of the death and if it is right for your whānau.
A New Zealand study reported on interviews with 169 mothers who gave birth to a stillborn baby after 28 weeks of pregnancy. Ten percent (7 of 70) mothers who declined a post-mortem said they would not make this decision again. No mother (0 of 99) who agreed to a post-mortem regretted her decision.
Cronin R, Li M, Wise M, et al. 2018. Late stillbirth post mortem examination in New Zealand: maternal decision-making. Aust NZ J Obstet Gyn 58(6): 667–73.
The National Perinatal Pathology Service does not coordinate coronial post-mortems, this is the responsibility of Coronial Services, which is part of the Ministry of Justice. You can find out more information about the coronial service and how to contact the service on the website Coronial Services of New Zealand.
New Zealand citizens or permanent residents are entitled to publicly funded healthcare. Non-residents may be required to pay for their healthcare.
Support for bereaved whānau
Support for healthcare professionals
Information about perinatal pathology and perinatal loss in New Zealand