9-15 October marks Baby Loss Awareness Week, the week that raises awareness about pregnancy and baby death here in the UK.
Sadly, losing a baby is not a rare event and it can happen to anyone. Throughout the week bereaved parents, family members and friends can commemorate the all-too-brief lives of their babies, knowing that thousands of other families elsewhere in the world will be doing the same.
It's important for us to come together in support of those who have been affected by the loss of a baby to let them know they are not alone and that we're here to support them.
If you've experienced loss or someone you know is struggling, we've put together some helpful resources and charities that can help families through their grief.
Tommy's fund research into miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth, and provide pregnancy health information to parents. They support parents to have the best possible pregnancy outcomes and to take home happy, healthy babies. Go to www.tommys.org for more.
Sands, stillbirth and neonatal death charity offer support to those who have been affected by the loss of a baby for both families and professionals. You can call them on 0808 164 3332 or email them at email@example.com. Visit www.sands.org.uk for more information.
Saying Goodbye provides comprehensive information, advice, support and much more to anyone who has suffered the loss of a baby, at any stage of pregnancy, at birth or in infancy. You can call them on 0845 293 8027 or email on firstname.lastname@example.org. Find out more at www.sayinggoodbye.org/
If you’ve been affected by miscarriage, molar pregnancy or ectopic pregnancy, Miscarriage Association can provide the help and support you need. Call 01924 200799 or email email@example.com. You can visit www.miscarriageassociation.org.uk to find out more information.
Petals charity works to provide specialist counselling for families who have been affected by baby loss. You can reach them on 0300 688 0068 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find out more information about Petals at petalscharity.org
Viki Ferguson’s daughter Megan was stillborn at 35 weeks in March 2014.
Viki said: "I feel that Baby Loss Awareness Week is just as important for people who haven't suffered a loss than for those of us who have.
“Getting this message out, which is so much easier these days with social media, highlights issues that are taboo but it also educates people on how to treat and behave around those who have lost a baby.
“Dedicating a whole week keeps it in the public eye and allows the bereaved, not just the parents, but the wider circle of family and friends to have an outlet. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings, friends, potential godparents have all lost a baby too, but they're not always noticed.
“I find that a lot of my family and friends show support around the time of my daughter's birthday but the rest of the time, they try to avoid the subject for fear of upsetting us, but by supporting Baby Loss Awareness Week, we're showing that it's OK to speak about it and acknowledge it.
“Our little angels are in our thoughts 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, there's not a day goes by that I don't think about her, but having this week dedicated to highlighting risks, what to look out for, possible prevention and research is so important for those around us. And for it to culminate in the Wave of Light is a way to remember all of our angels."
Mum Daniela Rollings talks about her miscarriage
On New Year's Day 2018 Mother&Baby reader Daniela Rollings and her husband Ben, got onto the subject of having children and decided they'd start trying for a baby. A month after trying, Daniela noticed some bleeding and immediately thought this was the start of her period, not expecting to be pregnant. During the next few days Daniela noticed that her period-like blood had turned spotty, so she decided to do a pregnancy test, which came back positive.
After several blood tests, being sent back and forth from the hospital and attempting to obtain some normality, Daniela just carried on as usual.
"I was attending a friend's tea party," Daniela said. "I got dressed up and then I started having the biggest stomach cramps, similar to when you have an upset tummy. I went to the toilet and felt the urge to push – I was pushing, pushing, pushing (as if I was trying to do a numer two) but nothing was happening - I didn’t understand. My body just felt like I wanted to push. I thought it was just tummy cramps but then when I stood up I saw this blood clot. I immediately thought ‘what the f*** is that?’ I called Ben because I didn’t know what to do, and Ben said I think you need to go to the hospital now, because he was at work."
Daniela took a cab to the hospital and thought, "oh gosh I have to go to the hospital by myself, Ben’s still at work. At this point I was being very matter of fact, I didn’t cry." After visiting A&E a couple of times after that for blood tests, where Daniela's levels were continuously rising and falling, the hospital suggested she had a scan.
"This was now coming to the third week, the sonographer was lovely. She said, 'I can’t see anything there, it’s safe to say you’ve had a miscarriage. Go home, go have a big piece of cake, go and relax a bit. I can’t see anything, I think that’s it'. So I thought, ‘that’s great, it’s done. I went back to the unit, they said after you’ve spoken to the sonographer you can come back to the unit and have a debrief about your scan. At this point all the doctors previously there had left, we’d been there over an hour, I was starving. So Ben and I thought, forget it, we’ll just go home. On the way home we were waiting for food and then my phone rang and it was the hospital.
"All they said was, ‘we need you to come back to the hospital now’. I said, ‘OK, why?’ They said, ‘we can’t discuss that over the phone.’ I said, ‘what do you mean you can’t discuss that over the phone, why do you need me to come back, what’s happening?’ They said, ‘you just need to come back to the hospital now.’ By this point I’ve had a complete meltdown, I’m thinking something’s shown up on my scan, you know a lump or something, I freaked out. What the hell is happening?
"Ben was distraught in the car, with me on the way there. I hadn’t cried through the whole thing, but that had really set me off, I just didn’t understand what was happening to me. I didn’t understand why no one could tell me over the phone.
"I went back to the hospital, spoke to a doctor and they said, ‘basically we’re classing it as a pregnancy of an unknown location, we can’t locate the baby’.
"I said, ‘well I can tell you that, it went down the toilet’. The doctor then replied, ‘we can’t guarantee that’s what happened, there may be parts of it left inside of you. We need to be careful it could be ectopic.’
"What they wanted me to do was give me an injection they give to cancer patients, which goes into your body and destroys anything that’s left. I think this was ‘over the course of 2/3 weeks this would need to happen’, I’d feel ill, I might be left infertile. I was just like, ‘absolutely not, there’s no way I’m doing this. There’s got to be some other way.’"
Daniela then had another blood test which confirmed a negative pregnancy, at which point she was officially discharged.
"The most stressful thing out of the whole situation was the hospital and the whole not telling me what’s going on over the phone and literally putting the fear of god in me. That was the worst bit.
"The miscarriage itself was like having an upset stomach and wasn’t that bad and I was very straight-headed about it. But the hospital side of it was awful."
Since then Daniela and Ben tried again and welcomed a baby girl, Sophie, in November 2019. We wish them and Sophie well.
Below are some of the latest Tommy's statistics on pregnancy loss...
2018 pregnancy loss statistics from Tommy's
731,213 births were registered in 2018
There were 2958 stillbirths (when a baby is born dead after 24 completed weeks of pregnancy or more) in 2018
Approximately 60,000 babies were born prematurely in 2018
An estimated 1 in 5 pregnancies ended in miscarriage (1 in 8 if we only count women who realised/reported the miscarriage)
Estimates suggest there are 250,000 miscarriages every year in the UK, and around 11,000 emergency admissions for ectopic pregnancies.
There were 2,131 neonatal deaths (when a baby is born alive but dies under the age of 28 days) in 2018
114 women died from mental health-related causes during or up to one year after pregnancy in the UK and Ireland in 2018
209 women died during or up to 6 weeks after pregnancy between 2015-2017 - this equates to 9.2 women per 100,000 who died due to causes associated with pregnancy during pregnancy or soon after
Viki, Daniela and many other women have openly spoken about their loss and how their journey has affected them. For them and all the other women around the world, we want to rise up and talk about all walks of life and loss to support you.
If you're going through anything similar please contact one of the support networks above.