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 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 2019
Thousands of parents experience pregnancy or baby loss every year, many will go on to experience psychiatric illness that requires specialist support, triggered by intense grief and the trauma of their experience.
Our research shows that too often this support is unavailable, inaccessible or inappropriate. Bereaved parents are falling through the gaps between policy and funding, regularly overlooked altogether.
For 2019, we called on Governments across the UK to take action to ensure that all parents who experience pregnancy or baby loss and need specialist psychological support can access it, at a time and place that is right for them, free of charge, wherever they live.
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.