An alliance of more than 100 charities are joining together during Baby Loss Awareness Week 2021 (9-15 October) to highlight how people affected by pregnancy and baby loss can find ways to cope and build a life around their grief.
Sadly, pregnancy and baby loss are not rare tragedies, with 14 babies stillborn or dying in the first few weeks of life every day in the UK and around one in four pregnancies ending in miscarriage.(Sources: Tommy’s; Ectopic Pregnancy TrustSands
The charities are now calling on anyone affected by pregnancy and baby loss to join in the conversation on social media using the hashtag #BLAW2021 to share what has helped them look after their mental and physical wellbeing.
This year’s theme of wellbeing aims to give bereaved parents and families hope by sharing the many ways in which people look after themselves after loss, as well as signposting them to the support that is available from the Baby Loss Awareness Week organisations.
Chief Executive of Sands (stillbirth and neonatal death charity) and Chair of the Baby Loss Awareness Alliance, Clea Harmer said: “This year during Baby Loss Awareness Week we want to help anyone touched by pregnancy and baby loss get the support they need in the way that works best for them. From the moment a baby dies, the world changes forever. There are no simple answers to grief; it is a journey to a new way of living, and the ways people find to look after their wellbeing will be different for everyone. Grief is a personal and unique emotion and so are the ways that people find to cope with it.”
Finding ways to cope after loss
Anthony Hubbard’s son Charlie was stillborn on 4th January 2019. He has found his own way to cope with his and his partner’s loss through raising funds for several charities and working with his employer to improve workplace support for anyone affected by pregnancy and baby loss.
Anthony said: “My partner woke with back pain and after she fainted in the bedroom, I called 999 and an ambulance was dispatched. She was rushed into the Royal Derby Hospital where the staff looked after her and began scanning her. After what seemed an eternity, we were hit with the words we most feared: I’m sorry, there’s no heartbeat. The world around us disappeared in an instant, we sobbed and sobbed for our little boy, pleading with the world for him to be okay.
“Over the course of the last two years I have turned my grief into the driving force behind campaigning for change, fundraising for the multiple charities that helped us and helping as many other families as possible by sharing my story and helping them to find the support they need. The positive energy I take from my grief has helped me to work with my employer on improving the support available to our workforce, creating better policies, better guidance and recognising Baby Loss Awareness Week across the group for the first time in its history.
“When I see our building light up pink and blue in October it will be my Charlie’s legacy for the world to see. My boy lives on in every conversation I have, every positive change I help to create and every person I can help. Charlie is there, watching over me and guiding me to help those I can.”
Rowan, from Brighton, experienced ectopic pregnancy loss after trying to conceive for several months. After having pain on and off over a couple of weeks, she found out she was pregnant. Following a scan, the pregnancy was found to be ectopic. Rowan had treatment with methotrexate which involved repeated hospital visits over the course of around eight weeks and was signed off work for two weeks.
Rowan said: “I’d been in a bubble managing at home and found it quite hard to go back to the real world. Two weeks recovery didn’t feel long enough! But I had a supportive manager, who supported me to have a flexible week with hours at home as well as in the office. He also made sure that my team knew that I was on desk duty so that I didn’t have to have any difficult conversations when I did come back.”
Each day during #BLAW2021 will explore a different topic under the theme of wellbeing, sharing the Alliance’s wide range of support, information and stories of loss – engaging with people from all backgrounds and experiences of loss.
- Saturday 9th October: Introduction to the week and theme of wellbeing
- Sunday 10th: Looking after yourself
- Monday 11th: Looking after those who provide care and support and those on the frontline
- Tuesday 12th: Looking after siblings (children and adults)
- Wednesday 13th: Looking after partners (whatever their family situation and relationships)
- Thursday 14th: Looking after each other as a community (including the workplace)
- Friday 15th: Remembering your baby and the Wave of Light.
The NatWest Group is supporting Baby Loss Awareness Week 2021 in partnership with Sands and will be hosting a live Panel Discussion each weekday, featuring Sands and NatWest Group staff, external guest speakers and representatives from other charities in the Baby Loss Awareness Week Alliance.
Malcolm Buchanan, Managing Director of Corporate & Commercial Banking Scotland and Chairman Scotland Board, NatWest Group, said: “Baby Loss Awareness Week is an important opportunity to raise awareness of the impact of pregnancy and baby loss, and to reflect on how we can all do more to support those affected. Royal Bank of Scotland has employees and customers who have been affected and we hope our support of this year’s Baby Loss Awareness Week can help play a part, however small, in addressing the issues they face.”
Clea Harmer said: “There are lots of ways you might find comfort after the loss of a baby. You might want to talk or write about your experience. For some people, sharing your story can help make sense of your loss and celebrate your baby or babies. Or perhaps you simply want to hear about other people’s experiences and know you are not alone.
“This Baby Loss Awareness Week, we’d like you to join our conversations about what wellbeing means for you. Whether you’re a mum, dad, partner, relative or friend, newly or longer-ago bereaved. We’d love for you to be a part of this important community and help build a world where anyone touched by pregnancy and baby loss can get the support they need in the way that works best for them.”
Baby Loss Awareness Week helps raise awareness of how pregnancy and baby loss affects thousands of people each year across the UK. It is a unique opportunity to help people commemorate their babies, whether it be in public or private, and feel less isolated and alone by giving them the opportunity to join with others.
Throughout the Week, landmarks and buildings across the UK will be lit up pink and blue – the colours of Baby Loss Awareness Week. Baby Loss Awareness Week will culminate in a global Wave Of Light at 7pm on 15th October when candles will be lit across the world to remember all those babies who have died. Anyone can join a digital Wave of Light from 7pm on 15th October by posting a photo of their candle to Instagram, Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #WaveOfLight.
The Baby Loss Awareness Week shop has a wide range of support booklets and resources, merchandise as well as resources for health professionals working with and supporting bereaved families. For more information visit: babyloss-awareness.org and follow #BLAW and #BLAW2021 on social media.