Sam Collinge, Bereavement Lead Midwife at George Eliot Hospital, Nuneaton reflects on her role supporting families who have been affected by pregnancy and baby loss and talks about Baby Loss Awareness Week.
Baby Loss Awareness Week (9-15 Oct) brings together health care professionals, international bereavement charities, support and counselling organisations to give anyone touched by pregnancy and baby loss a safe and supportive space to share their experiences and feel that they are not alone.
Baby Loss Awareness Week is one of the busiest and most important weeks in my calendar and the planning of national and local events across Coventry and Warwickshire began early on in the year.
Now in its 19th year and led by Sands, the stillbirth and neonatal death charity, in collaboration with more than 40 UK charities, the week culminates with the global “Wave of Light” on 15th October which also coincides with International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Families are invited to light a candle to remember all babies that have died too soon. They may also join the virtual Wave of Light on social media by taking a photo of their candle and uploading it to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using #WaveOfLight at 7pm local time. In addition to this there are now a number of organisations who support Baby Loss Awareness Week by lighting up their buildings and landmarks in pink and blue.
Many parents will choose to join one of the special remembrance services held by local hospitals, support organisations, or events organised by their faith community, while others will choose to remember their baby in a way unique to them.
Here in Coventry and Warwickshire we will be hosting a service at Coventry Cathedral on Sunday 10 October at 2pm. After the service people are invited to bring their own picnic to the lawn outside where they will be able to meet the organisers and other families. There will also be an opportunity after the service to chalk hearts on the floor of the Cathedral Ruins, as a symbol of the continuing love and loss that is remembered at this time. We hope that our beautiful and uplifting event will help those who have been affected feel more connected and less alone.
This year Baby Loss Awareness Week’s theme is ‘wellbeing’, with a special focus on caring for ourselves and one another. The wellbeing theme is also extended to health care professionals. It is important to recognise that caring for families experiencing loss is hugely challenging and staff have been under immense pressure during the Pandemic. It is vital that that all those working with bereaved families are well supported in order for them to be able to continue to deliver high quality compassionate care.
Each day during Baby Loss Awareness Week 2021 a different topic will be explored and families are encouraged to come together to share their experiences, commemorate and celebrate their babies with the overarching aim of helping to break the taboo and silence that exists around baby loss.
As we move towards #BLAW2021 consider how your own organisation or department can prepare and mark the event and support families in knowing they are not alone. For more information please visit www.babyloss-awareness.org.