Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Baby Loss Awareness Week: What You Can Do to Make a Difference

This week (Oct 9 -15) is Baby Loss Awareness Week, and over the course of the week, as we do each year here at Capsule, we’ll be sharing stories and information about this incredibly important topic, which, unfortunately, is very rarely spoken about.

In NZ we don’t collect data on the number of miscarriages, but it’s estimated that between 13,000 to 15,000 women experience a miscarriage in NZ per year. That means for every four pregnancies, one ends in miscarriage.

Then, there are the babies who are stillborn – who die during pregnancy or in utero after the 20th week of pregnancy. Each year about one in every 200 pregnancies ends in stillbirth.

Yet, it’s a topic we rarely talk about.

For something that happens so frequently, to so many families, it can seem entirely bizarre that it is such a taboo, hushed topic – which means that when families do go through a loss, it can feel incredibly isolating, as though no one else has ever had to go through that pain before. Yet, in reality, our country is scattered with families who know only too well the pain and suffering of miscarriage and baby loss.

In the past few years, we’ve talked to several experts and Kiwis who have experienced loss first-hand. If you’d like to read back through these stories, a synopsis of each is below. Or, if you’d like to share your own story, Capsule is a safe place and we welcome your thoughts, experiences and stories – please email [email protected].

The one message that has come up time and time again this week, is that if one thing could come out of Baby Loss Awareness Week, it would be that we talk more. That we don’t let this topic be the elephant in the room. That we open up conversations around miscarriage and baby loss, to support those families going through grief and pain, often in isolation and silence. Let’s start talking.

Don’t Let it Be the Elephant in the Room – How to Support a Friend or Family Member Who Has Lost a Baby
Vicki Culling, PhD, is the director and principal trainer of her own company which runs workshops and training programs for medical professionals dealing with perinatal deaths. She’s worked with Sands for more than 15 years, running support groups in Wellington. Vicki is also a bereaved parent herself, having lost her first daughter who was stillborn at 10 days overdue, whilst Vicki was doing her PhD in Women’s Health Research. Vicki talks us through what we can do to support a friend or family member who has suffered a loss.

Hayley Holt on Sobriety, Her Son Raven And The Bravery Of Pregnancy After Baby Loss
In Hayley Holt’s book, Second Chances, she speaks with unflinching honesty about her battle with alcohol, falling off the wagon after having a miscarriage – following the death of her son Frankie – and the bravery of pregnancy after baby loss. “You have to face your fear; you have to face your shadows and accept them as they come.” Here, she speaks to Emma Clifton about her son.

‘Grief Only Exists In Our Lives Because Love Did First.’ Meet The Mother Who Wrote The Baby Loss Book She Needed
Annie Anderson experienced two baby losses and found that a lot of the grief resources and books weren’t sharing the full experience… so she decided to write her own.

‘My Miscarriage Was Not My Fault. Neither Was Yours’ Women’s Health Expert, Wellness by Jessica, Shares Her Loss and Message For Other Women (and Men!)
While she’s helped women across the world get pregnant, Jessica – of Wellness By Jessica fame – and her husband experienced their own incredibly painful heartbreak on their journey to parenthood when they went through a miscarriage in the first trimester.

‘Sometimes, There Is No Happy Ending’ One Woman’s Story of Heartbreak and Repeated Miscarriages
On the rare occasions that baby loss and miscarriage are addressed in the media, often its families who have experienced a loss, but have gone on to have another baby – a ‘rainbow baby’ who are featured. We love to end a story with hope, or a bit of good news. But what about the families who don’t get that rainbow baby? Where does their grief go? Steph Whitehouse bravely shares her story of loss.

“I Wanted to Tattoo ‘I Am a Mum’ On My Forehead” – The Aftermath of Baby Loss, Plus Expert Tips on Creating Memories to Begin the Healing Process
Judith Moorhead – Chairperson of Sands Taranaki – shares the story of the loss of her daughter, Georgia, 14 years ago. Judith also runs us through why creating memories in the days after the death can help the healing process. Judith shares her tips for remembering your baby, as well as advice for supporting a close friend or family member who has experienced a loss.

‘What I Wanted People to Ask Me When I Lost My Son at 35 Weeks’
Capsule reader Leonora was faced with the unthinkable. At a scan while 35 weeks pregnant, she and her husband learned that their cherished little baby – a son they had named Odilon (Odie for short) – had passed away.

‘The Deafening Silence I Experienced After I Lost My Son’
We hear from Steph Whitehouse who shares the excruciating, life-changing experience of losing her son.

‘People Say Lightning Doesn’t Strike Twice… Well, It Does. Could It Strike Three Times?’ Grieving Two Stillbirths While Being A New Mother and Dealing With Survivor’s Guilt
Business of Influence founder Amanda McConchie, went through the traumatic experience of having two stillbirths in 18 months, the second of which was during a pandemic. A year later, we spoke to Amanda, who was experiencing a new chapter in her baby journey after giving birth to their third child, a healthy little boy called Arthur.

 

If you, or someone you know has experienced a loss, please reach out to Sands, or Whetūrangitia

You can support the wonderful folks at Sands, who do an extraordinary job supporting Kiwi families by visiting www.sands.org.nz

 

 

 

 

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