Date of release: 15 October 2021
Here at The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust (RWT) we are observing Baby Loss Awareness Week (BLAW) – a campaign that brings together people touched by pregnancy and baby loss in a safe space to share their experiences.
The week also enables organisations and charities to raise awareness of the impact and reality of miscarriages, stillbirths, and premature births to drive improvements in national policy and bereavement support.
We’re pleased to use this week as an opportunity to recognise the efforts of our maternity teams who are constantly striving to provide the best possible care for women, their partners and families who have experienced their own loss.
New Cross Hospital has staff dedicated to bereavement across the department, including a specialist nurse in Gynaecology, two specialist midwives on Delivery Suite and one specialist nurse within Neonatal – this is because losses can occur at different stages of pregnancy. Sadly, it is estimated about one in eight pregnancies will end in miscarriage, while around one in every 200 births in England will be a stillbirth (causes for both can often be unknown).
In such devastating circumstances, our bereavement teams help families with making the decisions that are right for them.
Carole Sadler, Specialist Bereavement Midwife, explained: “Our service covers a range of practical and emotional support, both in and out of the hospital.
“If there is a post-mortem for example, we will ensure the parents are informed and we will talk through the results with them. We also offer support with funeral arrangements, as we know this isn’t easy for any family to arrange while grieving.”
“Families are then given special boxes to store meaningful items they have collected through the pregnancy and after birth – whether that’s a lock of hair, a footprint or a photograph. The box is a personal reminder of the baby which we hope will create some positive memories in what is otherwise a tragic and upsetting situation.”
The Trust also offers the family use of a ‘cuddle cot’ – this is a cooling mattress that stops the baby's body deteriorating. Placed in a cot or pram, the cot allows parents to stay with them for up an extended time.
“The cots enable parents to spend precious time with their baby and to say a proper goodbye,” explains Kirsty Malcom, Specialist Bereavement Midwife. “It’s such a simple piece of kit but it makes a massive difference to our service-users. That gift of time, whether that’s at home or in one of our bereavement rooms, is truly invaluable.
“The Trust owns five of these cots with several of these purchased using donations from parents and families. We’re incredibly grateful and can’t thank the families enough.”
Support continues for the families even after they have been discharged from hospital, with details of help via various charities and access to our midwives on the telephone for when they need a listening ear.
Carole, who has worked in the role since 2005, describes it as “the best job in the world.”
She explains: “The role is challenging of course, and it’s been difficult throughout the pandemic as I’ve had to shield for most of it – however I was able to support women and families remotely. Like with all other services, we’ve had to find alternative ways to make it work and I’ve certainly learnt a lot about communicating virtually!
“I’m privileged to work alongside some fantastic teams, such as the Trust’s main bereavement office, the Swan Suite (the mortuary service) and the Chaplaincy team, to care for families in what is likely to be one of the worst periods of their lives. I’m really proud of the service on offer.”
BLAW culminates with the global Wave of Light at 7pm on Friday, October 15th, which is recognised as International Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Maternity staff at RWT will be creating their own light display to mark the occasion.