I WAS inspired this month by a group of women from Wigan who have used their own tragic experiences to help others.
All of them have suffered the terrible tragedy of a stillborn child.
At a reception in Parliament this month I learnt that this is a tragedy that affects 17 families in the UK every day but help is not always available, and depends largely on the policy of individual hospitals.
Some women are offered bereavement counselling but others aren’t and I’ve heard of cases where women who’ve lost their children are left to recover in maternity wards, surrounded by mothers with their newborn children - the emotional damage that this can do is enormous.
Across the country there is very little ongoing help for women who struggle to come to terms with the aftermath of their loss.
The charity SANDS provides that support.
Inspired by her experience of attending a support group led by the charity, one woman set up her own group in Wigan so that other local women could benefit from the help that they provide.
The group help other women who have suffered the same tragedy, bringing them together in a common experience and provide ongoing support for those who go on to have another child. Women from across the North West travel to Wigan to attend.
Shockingly SANDS says many of these deaths could be prevented in the first place.
The UK has one of the worst records for stillbirth in Europe and they estimate that 1,200 babies’ lives could be saved every year through a combination of more research, better care and greater awareness of the risks of stillbirth and newborn baby death.
Eleven babies die every day after 24 weeks of pregnancy and this could be dramatically reduced with improved antenatal care and monitoring during the pregnancy.
SANDS aims to provide support for those mothers and families who are traumatised by this experience but they are also calling for action from the NHS and Government and they have my full support.
At a time when cuts are being felt across all our public services, and particularly in the NHS, it is vitally important that such services don’t get left behind.
With the appropriate commitment and investment in research and improved care, a reduction in these rates is achievable and should be a key focus for all those concerned with maternity services.