About Baby Loss Awareness Week

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 services, support, research or policy around bereavement support.
  • to let the public and key stakeholders what charities and other supportive organisations are doing on bereavement support around pregnancy and baby loss.

The charities leading Baby Loss Awareness Week provide support to anyone affected by pregnancy loss and the death of a baby, and work with health professionals and services to improve care.

Together we are committed to raising awareness of pregnancy and baby loss. We also want to identify how we can reduce preventable deaths and improve support for all those affected.

What is Baby Loss Awareness Week 2018 about?

The focus for 2018 is still to be finalised, we will update you here as soon as we can, please keep checking back.

In 2017 we talked about better bereavement care for people affected by pregnancy and baby loss.

It is vital that good bereavement care is offered to anyone who has lost a baby before, during or after birth.

However, the standard of care in the UK varies widely between regions. Bereavement care training is mandatory in under 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.

Source: Sands Bereavement Care Audit Report 2016

As a result lots of parents do not receive good quality bereavement support following pregnancy or baby loss. The quality and consistency of care can vary on the circumstances of baby loss, where parents live, and even depends on who may be on shift that day.

We believe that as far as is possible, there should be high quality bereavement support services and care available for everyone wherever they live in the UK. Everyone should have the chance to have the support they need, when they need it, for as long as they need it.

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.

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.

Working for Change

What do we want to see?

We are calling for:

  • All UK hospitals to be required to offer excellent bereavement care to parents.
  • A member of staff to be appointed to lead on bereavement care in every hospital department where pregnancy loss and baby death occurs.
  • Bereavement rooms to be available and accessible in all hospitals.
  • All health and social care professionals to receive the highest standard of bereavement care training.

More information on the detail and research behind these aspirations is included in the briefings below, which are specific to the specific health systems in Scotland, Wales and England. Some of our stakeholder organisations are working in Northern Ireland, but due to the current capacity of those organisations and the fact the Northern Ireland Assembly is not in session currently, we are not focusing on changes to bereavement support in Northern Ireland during the Week.

Please click the links to download our briefings as a pdf document: England I Scotland I Wales