Making memories and keeping the conversation going
At the end of Baby Loss Awareness Week it is important to keep the conversation going, and think about the people for whom baby loss has become part of their life. Today at 7pm, families, professionals working in related services and charities will light a candle to take part in the #WaveOfLight. Commemorating pregnancy loss is about remembering the pregnancy, the baby, being a parent or a sibling or a grandparent. It's about recognising that when we talk about pregnancy and birth, every experience is unique and requires individualised care and support. It's also about the professionals who work with bereaved parents, who hold hands and make it their mission to let families know that they are not alone.
This project is just starting and I feel like I have already learned so much from the brave parents who have shared their stories with the social media community throughout this week, the amazing activists and experts working in the field and the charities organising Baby Loss Awareness Week. I want to highlight three themes that have come up again and again, that also feature in my research project:
1) Continuity of care
Continuity of care means that parents receive care consistently from the same team throughout the pregnancy loss, postnatal and bereavement period and if they become pregnant again, antenatal. Further, continuity of care spans beyond reproduction as there is a need for greater collaboration between maternity services, bereavement services, the mortuary and funeral homes and legal records. Care is not just part of the job of, say, the midwife, but of the legal system who makes a clear distinction between pregnancy losses with ramifications that are social, economical and emotional. Baby loss can hurt at any stage of pregnancy.
This week has been all about increasing awareness for the baby loss community. This is about awareness that pregnancy loss is common and painful, that pregnant people deserve support and appropriate services. It is about making sure their partners receive adequate attention and support also and that both are recognised as parents. The wider family, especially siblings and grandparents also need to be able to express their emotions and be heard. Recognition is also necessary for the communities who are affected disproportionally, for example BAME families and the LGBTQ community. I am happy to see that Tommy's has made a commitment to making their work more inclusive!
3) Memory making
If there is only so little time with a baby, make memories. One of the things I have learned this week is how important memory making is to bereaved families and what different ways they can be made. SiMBA and 4Louis provide beautiful memory boxes with items that can help families to create memories that last. I also hope that by raising awareness, these memories are recognised and treasured by a greater number of people, enabling families who experienced loss to feel supported in their grief.
I will take a moment to be grateful that I am able to research such an important topic and think of the many families who hold their babies in their hearts tonight! #YouAreNotAlone