Baby Loss Awareness Week

Baby Loss Awareness Week 2017

Today marks the beginning of Baby Loss Awareness Week (9-15 October). Alongside more than 40 other organisations, Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity is calling for every parent whose baby has died to be offered an excellent standard of bereavement care.

Pregnancy and baby loss affects thousands of families each year across the UK. Bereavement support is vital to offer to anyone who has lost a child or pregnancy. But currently, the standard of care bereaved parents receive is a lottery, depending on where they live, what stage of pregnancy or birth the loss occurs, and whether individual healthcare workers know what to do. The coalition of charities are calling for excellent NHS bereavement care to be mandatory across the UK so that no parent is left to cope with the death of their baby alone.

In particular, the coalition of charities is calling for:

  • All UK hospitals to be required to offer excellent bereavement care to parents
  • A member of staff appointed to lead on bereavement care in every hospital department where pregnancy loss and baby death occurs
  • Bereavement rooms to be available and accessible in all hospitals
  • All health and social care professionals to receive the highest standard of bereavement care training.

Currently, fewer than half (46%) of maternity units in the UK provide mandatory bereavement care training, while one in three Health Trusts and Boards have no dedicated bereavement rooms in each maternity unit they cover, according to research by the charity Sands in 2016

At the same time, analysis shows that there has been a rise in the number of babies with palliative care needs over recent years. This is partly because of medical developments which mean that many more babies born prematurely and/ or with complex medical conditions, now survive birth. As a result, Rainbow Trust has offered tailored support to parents of babies in neonatal units since 2015, beginning with the creation of a dedicated Neonatal Support Worker at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. Rainbow Trust now provides neonatal support in each of the nine areas that it works in across England, and runs three neonatal support groups.

Anne Harris, Rainbow Trust Director of Care, said:

‘A Rainbow Trust Neonatal Support Worker can provide someone independent to talk to including support during difficult appointments and conversations with doctors. They can also offer focussed support around grief and loss for parents and siblings, including memory-making activities, delivered in the place of their choosing. The death of a baby is a devastating event for all members of the family, and this can lead to emotional and physical exhaustion, a deep longing for the baby, and conflicting emotions including anger and guilt. For this reason, high quality bereavement care and support are vital. Rainbow Trust fully supports the calls for excellent bereavement care to be available to all parents, wherever they live. We also want to highlight the value of bereavement support outside the hospital setting. This support needs to be recognised and funded, to ensure all families can receive the support they need when their baby dies, wherever they live, and for as long as required.’

The Week will see a range of activities to promote awareness of baby loss and what parents most need, culminating in a global Wave of Light at 7pm on 15 October when candles will be lit across the world to remember all those babies who have died too soon. Landmark buildings will be lit up pink and blue, the colours of Baby Loss Awareness Week. Visit www.Babyloss-awareness.org to find out more.