10 July 2020

Baby Loss Awareness 2020

We appreciate this may be a sensitive subject matter for some of you and so would like to issue the following Trigger warning: Miscarriage and Baby loss.

How did Baby Loss Awareness week start?

The chances are that thanks to an extensive marketing campaign you are now, at least, aware of the existence of Baby Loss Awareness Week which takes place 9-15 October every year. Baby Loss Awareness Week  aims to raise awareness about pregnancy and baby loss in the UK and to unite bereaved parents and their loved ones with others and commemorate the lives of babies who have died during pregnancy, soon after birth or in infancy.

Baby loss awareness week was started in 2002 and initiated by a group of parents inspired by Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day in the United States. Through the sale of handmade blue and pink ribbon pins they raised several thousand pounds for UK organisations supporting bereaved parents. With SANDS taking over the organisation in 2010.

Who organises it what is it for?

The Baby Loss Awareness Alliance is a collaboration of more than 70 charities  they aim to not only raise awareness of just how many families are affected by baby loss in the UK, but to drive changes in policy, to educate clinical professionals on matters of compassion, language and how to break bad news and all aspects of bereavement care, to reach out to those who have lost, offering support where needed and solidarity. They also work towards breaking down the taboo of baby loss and help loved ones to understand how they can best support the bereaved family member what to say and what not to say for example.

With the current statistics standing that baby loss is something that will occur to 1 in 4 women (with a further 1 in 4 experiencing multiple miscarriages). That figure alone speaks for itself it’s a heart breaking figure the represents a heart breaking reality for many women and families.

What work still needs to be done in 2020?

Baby Loss is still very much, even in 2020 a taboo subject. One where women and men often try to gloss over their own grief and where friends and loved ones are either oblivious to your loss, (if you haven’t told them) or are unsure what to say and may avoid talking about it as a result. Those that do speak out, particularly those in the public eye, may face criticism. Chrissy Teigan and John Legend only last week sadly announced they had lost their baby boy, Jack, and amongst the outpouring of sympathy were many messages on social media posts criticising their decision for sharing their sad news. Calling them “attention seeking” and saying the post was in poor taste. I think this very much reiterates that Baby Loss even in 2020 is still a taboo subject and there is still much work to be done.

Long lasting affects’ of poor care.

Sadly statistics show that many bereaved mothers will go on to experience psychiatric illness that requires specialist support, triggered by intense grief and the trauma of their experience. SANDS research also shows that too often this support is unavailable, inaccessible or inappropriate. Furthermore SANDS states that the care that bereaved families receive from health and other professionals, following pregnancy loss or the death of their baby, can have long-lasting effects. Good care cannot remove parents’ pain and grief, but it can help them through this devastating time. In contrast, poor care can significantly add to their distress.

The effects of covid 19 on Baby loss care and support.

The effect of social distancing from Covid-19 has had a major impact on access to care and support and has complicated grief and responses to pregnancy and baby loss. With many mothers facing appointments and scans alone, this has resulted in thousands of women receiving heart-breaking news alone. Thankfully this is now an issue that is being addressed but there is still much work can be done.

How can I help?

2020 has been a year where lowliness and Isolation has been enhanced for many now more than ever, we can all come together to let those affected by pregnancy and baby loss know they are not alone and that we are all here to support them?

We conclude this blog post by sharing more information from SANDS listing 5 ways you can help support a bereaved parent

Where can I get support?

If you would like further information or support please see:

https://www.sands.org.uk/

https://www.tommys.org/baby-loss/neonatal-death-information-and-support

https://www.samaritans.org/