Emma Savage, founder of the Rainbow Babies Playgroup for bereaved parents, talks about the importance of Baby Loss Awareness Week:
Every day in the UK, 17 babies are stillborn or die before they are a month old. Few people are aware of this shocking statistic and they certainly don't expect it to happen to someone they know. I had no idea that so many families lost their children until March 2010, when my second baby Lucy died shortly after birth and my world as I knew it fell apart.
October 9th to 15th is Baby Loss Awareness Week. The campaign aims to break the silence surrounding the death of a baby. By raising the profile of stillbirth and neonatal death, the campaign hopes to reduce the number of babies that die every year. And by talking about baby loss, the campaign hopes to give people a better understanding of the impact of a baby's death on parents and families.
As baby loss is rarely discussed, many people don't know what to say or do when a baby dies. What most bereaved parents want to hear is a simple "I'm sorry" and they will usually be grateful to people who allow them to talk about their baby and keep their memory alive by using their name. It's important to remember that the parents have lost a loved and longed for member of their family. They may have other children, or go on to have other babies in the future, but they will always miss and never want to "replace" this baby. When a baby dies, bereaved parents' lives change forever and will never go back to normal. But by supporting them you can help them to learn to live with their loss and find their "new normal".
Babies born after loss are often called Rainbow Babies - the idea is the sun coming out after the storm. These pregnancies can be a very difficult and worrying time for parents, and it's important to remember that the new baby's arrival can be a time of mixed emotions. I was lucky to find a group of friends online that supported me through my pregnancy with Katie, who was born in February 2011. After she was born, I really wanted to meet other "rainbow" parents so I set up Rainbow Babies bereaved parents playgroup in Chester with the support of the NCT. It's a place for parents to meet and make friends with others in the same situation, and for their children to play together. Parents attend from all over Cheshire and Wirral with their bumps, babies and toddlers.
Baby Loss Awareness Week ends with the International Wave of Light on October 15th. Throughout the world, candles are lit at 7pm and left to burn for a hour, creating a Wave of Light that travels around the globe to remember all the babies gone too soon. I will be lighting one in Lucy's memory, as well as remembering the babies of all the new friends I have met since 2010.
For more information visit:
- Rainbow Babies Playgroup www.facebook.com/rainbowbabiesnw
- Baby Loss Awareness Campaign www.babyloss-awareness.org
- SANDS (supporting anyone affected by the death of a baby) www.uk-sands.org.uk