What is Baby Loss Awareness Week?
Baby Loss Awareness Week is an opportunity:
- for bereaved parents, and their families and friends, to unite with others across the world to commemorate their babies’ lives.
- to raise awareness about the issues surrounding pregnancy and baby loss in the UK, and push for tangible improvements in bereavement care and support.
- to let the public and key stakeholders know what charities and other supportive organisations are doing on bereavement care and support around pregnancy and baby loss.
The charities leading Baby Loss Awareness Week are committed to raising awareness of pregnancy and baby loss, providing support to anyone affected by pregnancy loss and the death of a baby, working with health professionals and services to improve bereavement care, and reducing preventable deaths.
How it all started.
A brief history of Baby Loss Awareness Week
October 15 2002 was the inaugural Baby Loss Awareness Day in the UK and was initiated by a group of parents inspired by Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day in the United States. Through the sale of handmade blue and pink ribbon pins they raised several thousand pounds for UK organisations supporting bereaved parents.
The 2003 the campaign saw the day expanded to a week with events across the UK. The very first official ‘Wave of Light’ service in the UK was held at the American Church in London and was attended by representatives and members of each participating organisation. There were also services held across the UK from Scotland to Surrey. Once again, the ribbon pins were made and sold by bereaved parents.
The 2004 campaign was a more formal collaboration between the five organisations involved which included Sands, the Miscarriage Association, the Ectopic Pregnancy Trust, ARC and Babyloss.com. The ribbon pins were commercially manufactured and balloon releases were held in several locations. The group organised a secular service at the Royal Statistical Society in London and there were over twenty other events around the UK.
In 2006 the distinctive two colour ribbon was introduced and the ribbon pins were once again made by bereaved parents with the help of their family and friends.
Since 2010 Sands, the stillbirth and neonatal death charity, has played a pivotal role within the organisation of the week and since 2014 has taken a lead role to promote the week as part of its work raising awareness of the issues surrounding pregnancy and baby loss in the UK.
We don’t just work on bereavement. Many charities involved in Baby Loss Awareness Week work every day to prevent baby and infant deaths, pregnancy loss and maternal deaths. But this Baby Loss Awareness Week we want to talk about what could be done right now to better support families affected by the death of a baby.
What we called for during Baby Loss Awareness Week 2018?
Every year, thousands of people experience the loss of a baby in pregnancy, at or soon after birth, and in infancy.
The care that bereaved families receive from health and other professionals, following pregnancy loss or the death of their baby, can have long-lasting effects. Good care cannot remove parents’ pain and grief, but it can help them through this devastating time. In contrast, poor care can significantly add to their distress.
However, the standard of care in the UK varies between regions, and even within settings depending on at what stage a loss occurs – from early pregnancy through to infancy.
As a result many parents do not receive the good quality bereavement support they so desperately need after pregnancy or baby loss.
Bereavement care training is mandatory in less than half of NHS Trusts and Health Boards. At the last count, one in three Trusts and Health Boards did not have a dedicated bereavement room in each maternity unit they cover.
Bereavement care can and must get better and we believe we have the answer in the National Bereavement Care Pathway – find out how this ground-breaking programme is being made publically available for the first time.
You can make a difference for bereaved parents
Last Baby Loss Awareness Week, we asked everyone to stand up for parents who have experienced pregnancy or baby loss in your community by writing to the people responsible for making decisions about NHS services in your area. We want to see all families receive excellent bereavement care, when and where they need it.