Baby Loss Awareness Week 2021

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Baby Loss Awareness Week takes place every year on 9th – 15th October. Now in its 19th year, the week aims to raise awareness about how pregnancy and baby loss affects thousands of families each year across the UK. It is also a opportunity to bring together bereaved parents, their families and friends, and anyone else who has been touched by lives lost during, at or soon after birth and in infancy.

Baby loss and wellbeing

Despite restrictions easing throughout 2021, the Covid-19 pandemic has continued to impact both families and professionals who have been affected by pregnancy and baby loss throughout the UK. For this reason, this year’s theme is ‘Wellbeing’.

Wellbeing is vitally important in any circumstance and Baby Loss Awareness Week aims to explore this further by focusing on what wellbeing means for all of those who have been affected by pregnancy and baby loss.

Each day of Baby Loss Awareness Week is dedicated to a different relation of the lives that have been lost (partners and siblings, for example) in the hope of providing a valuable opportunity to learn about how we can look each after better as a community and how each of us can get the support we need.

Pregnancy and baby loss statistics

The terms ‘miscarriage’ and ‘stillbirth’ both describe pregnancy loss, but the official definition differs according to when the loss occurs. In the UK, a miscarriage is usually defined as loss of a baby before the 24th week of pregnancy, and a stillbirth is a loss of a baby at or after 24 weeks of pregnancy.

According to Tommy’s:

  • It is estimated that one in four pregnancies in the UK end in loss during pregnancy or at birth.
  • Around eight babies are stillborn every day.
  • In 2018, 114 women in the UK and Ireland died from mental health-related causes within a year after pregnancy.

According to Mama Academy, it is not clear how many miscarriages occur every since as a large number go unreported. Recent statistics show that:

  • Over 60,000 babies are born prematurely in the UK every year.
  • Approximately 300 babies lose their lives as a result of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS, also known as ‘cot death’) each year.

Breaking the silence around pregnancy loss

For too long pregnancy loss has been shrouded in silence, shame and stigma which obstructs conversation and invites feelings of isolation. This is illustrated by the common practice of waiting to share the news of a pregnancy until after the first trimester, when the likelihood of miscarriage decreases. In other words, “wait to share your good news to avoid the possibility of having to share bad news”.

By prioritising wellbeing, inspiring conversation and changing attitudes inside and outside of the workplace, the vicious cycle of silence, isolation and ‘taboo’ can be broken. It is for this very reason that encouraging communities and individuals to be supportive is paramount to a better understanding and progressive societal approach to pregnancy and baby loss.

Paid parental leave

An important milestone in prioritising wellbeing was that, in April 2020, the government introduced paid parental leave for the loss of a baby after 24 weeks. Leave can be taken at any time after the loss for up to 56 weeks.

This is a great step forward and means that such compassion and flexibility shown by employers becomes a ‘floor’ rather than a ‘ceiling’.

For more information on Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay and leave, and how to claim, click here. You should also check your employment contract and your employer’s policies to see if there are any further provisions regarding your entitlement or employer’s requirements.

Resources

If you have been affected by pregnancy or baby loss and are trying to find support that is right for you, the Baby Loss Awareness Week website lists all the Alliance organisations who might be able to help you.

Some of the key organisations which can help in the event of a loss are:

  • Miscarriage Association: if you have suffered a loss as a result of miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy or molar prganancy and are looking for information and support.
  • SANDS: for those who have suffered a loss as a result of stillbirth and are looking for support. You can also read about their hugely important work to ensure quality of care.
  • Lullaby Trust: if you have suffered a loss due to SIDS and are looking for support.
  • Aching Arms: if you have suffered a loss during pregnancy, birth or infancy recently or longer ago and would like to talk to someone about it.
  • Children of Jannah: this organisations helps bereaved parents who are of Muslim faith and who haves experienced baby loss and are looking for support.

If you are pregnant and seeking advice on a safe and healthy pregnancy:

  • Tommy’s: if you want to learn more about safer pregnancy and ongoing research about how pregnancy complications and loss can be prevented.
  • Safer Pregnancy: clear, evidence-based advice on safe pregnancies
  • The Lullaby Trust: for advice on how to reduce the risk of SIDS.
  • Kicks Count: this organisation aims to reduce stillbirths and neonatal deaths by highlighting the importance of awareness of baby’s movements.
  • SANDS has a comprehensive ‘useful links’ page which signposts to different charities, bereavement and mental health support (including for bereaved children), relationship counselling, information on pregnancy, resources to help with work, returning to work and applications for benefits, seeking legal advice, and many more.

How can I support Baby Loss Awareness Week?

Turn the UK Pink and Blue

If you are someone or you know someone who works in a public building that is lit up at night, you could contact them to ask if they could turn it pink and/or blue during Baby Loss Awareness week. You can find a template enquiry letter here.

Take part in the Wave of Light

At 7pm on Friday 15th October, Baby Loss Awareness Week 2021 concludes with the International Wave of Light. To get involved all you need to do is light a candle at 7pm and leave it burning for one hour. By doing this you are commemorating all of the lives that have been lost too soon. Participants are also encouraged to take a photo of their candle and post it on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #WaveofLight.

Put up a poster

The Baby Loss Awareness Week website has some posters, flyers and ribbon templates which you can download for free to stick around your office, shared workspace or communal building.

Make a donation

According to The Lullaby Trust, the Sandhu Charitable Foundation will be matching donations made in support of Baby Loss Awareness Week 2021 up to £9,000, so your donation could be doubled!

To learn more about how you can get involved, visit the Baby Loss Awareness website.

At Barcan+Kirby, we hope that we can do our part to continue breaking the silence surrounding pregnancy and baby loss so that those who are affected do not feel alone in their pain and grief.

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