This week is Baby Loss Awareness Week. We know that so many people, including many at Touchstone, have experienced losing a baby, whether in pregnancy or shortly afterwards. To mark this, Yasmin, from our My Plan Perinatal Mental Health service, has put together some information about how they can support people who have experienced baby loss.

Baby Loss Awareness Week is held annually to specially mark the loss of babies during pregnancy and soon after birth. This week gives bereaved parents, their families and friends the opportunity to unite with other people, share their experiences and raise awareness about pregnancy and baby loss.

Many people who lose a baby experience mental health difficulties. For example, a third of women suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder after losing a baby. Going through such a difficult and emotional period has a huge impact on the mental health and wellbeing of parents. This deeply traumatic time can affect all aspects of their lives personally and professionally.

In Bradford, baby loss is a particularly significant issue. In 2020, the stillbirth rate in Bradford was 6.3 per 1000 babies, compared with the England average of 3.8. The overall perinatal death rate, which includes both stillbirths and babies who died in the first week of their lives, was 9.7 per 1000 babies compared to the 5.9 average in England.

Every parent should be able to access specialist psychological services, as well as charities and organizations who provide expert support for parents, so that they can share their experiences and get support for coping with them. I work at Touchstone’s MyPlan, which offers specialist support to parents in Bradford. We are a perinatal mental health service and support parents, who are suffering with mental health issues as a result of a recent pregnancy or as a result of existing problems that might get worse with an upcoming pregnancy. These mental health issues can include anxiety, depression, worry and intrusive thoughts, feelings of worthlessness, insomnia, obsessions and compulsions, and self-harm. We provide outreach support to parents experiencing low to moderate perinatal mental health issues, focusing on improving wellbeing and mental health.

Baby loss, and the effects of that, is something our MyPlan support workers can offer help and support around. If you would like to access our help, you can refer yourself for support or ask other health professionals you work with to refer you to us. You can find out more from our referrals via our website: My Plan Bradford Perinatal Mental Health Support Service Website.

This Baby Loss Awareness Week, our partners in Bradford at the Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust are also lighting up the entrance to Bradford Royal Infirmary in pink and blue. This act of remembrance joins a Wave of Light across the country on 7pm on 15th October, where everyone is encouraged to light a candle to remember every baby who has died.

Other services that can support people who have experienced baby loss across West Yorkshire and the UK include:

The Miscarriage Association – If you’ve been affected by miscarriage, molar pregnancy or ectopic pregnancy, this website will provide you with information and guidance.

Tommys – If you have experienced the loss of a baby, whether through miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal death, or termination for medical reasons, Tommys have information and support to help.

Baby Loss Awareness Week – This website has lots of information about the things happening to mark Baby Loss Awareness Week, including sections for bereaved parents and families.

Cruse Bereavement Support – If you are experiencing grief in any form, for however long, Cruse can offer support. They have a helpline open weekdays and weekends at selected times (0808 808 1677). They also have a chat service you can access online and support services across the UK where you can received one-to-one or group support.

Sands (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death charity) – Sands operates throughout the UK, including in different parts of Yorkshire, supporting anyone affected by the death of a baby, working to improve the care bereaved parents receive, and promoting research and working closely with many different organisations to reduce the loss of babies’ lives.

The Lullaby Trust – This charity supports people who have experienced the sudden loss of a baby, as well as promoting research and information to help reduce infant deaths. They offer support to lots of different people who may have been affected by the loss of a baby, including if a baby died in your care. They also have a range of helpful resources including a booklet with practical and emotional guidance for when a baby dies suddenly and unexpectedly.

Child Bereavement UK  – This nationwide charity supports any children who are grieving or anyone (child or adult) who is grieving the loss of a child or baby. They offer support in a range of ways, including via a helpline on weekdays. They have also compiled this useful list of resources to support with the loss of a baby.