Last night I attended a Baby and Pregnancy Loss Candlelit Vigil on the steps of Ashton Memorial in Williamson Park, organised by my friend and Labour councillor Lizzi Collinge
Having become a mum for the first time this year and having experienced the overwhelming emotions of pregnancy and the wonder of welcoming my newborn son, I can only imagine the heartbreak of losing a child or suffering pregnancy loss. This week marks Baby Loss Awareness Week. The death of a baby is not a rare event. It can happen to anyone and Baby Loss Awareness Week is important for a number of reasons. The first is because it gives bereaved parents, their families and friends the opportunity to unite with each other to commemorate the lives of babies who died during pregnancy, at or soon after birth and in infancy. Secondly the event is supported by more than 60 charities across the UK who use the opportunity to lobby for improvements in research, care and policy around bereavement support. Fundraising during the week also allows the charities to highlight bereavement support and services available for anyone affected by the death of a baby at any stage. The care that bereaved families receive from health and other professionals can have a long-lasting impact. Good care won’t 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 standard of care however varies between regions, and even within settings depending on what stage the loss occurs. As a result many parents don’t receive the good quality bereavement support they so desperately need. Bereavement care training is mandatory in less than half of NHS Trusts and Health Boards. At the last count, one in three Trusts and Health Boards did not have a dedicated bereavement room in each maternity unit they cover. This has to change and I will do all I can to make sure the Government recognises and invests in this vital area of health support.