Baby Loss Awareness Week: supporting the wellbeing of parents, midwives and MSWs
Baby Loss Awareness Week is an annual event when parents, families, friends and health professionals come together to remember babies who have died during pregnancy or shortly after birth. Now in its nineteenth year, the theme of the Week for 2021 is ‘Wellbeing’. Guidance, support and personal stories will be shared online throughout the week to promote wellbeing and support anyone affected by pregnancy loss or the death of a baby.
Baby Loss Awareness Week is led by over a hundred charities and organisations who are part of the Baby Loss Alliance. In my role at Sands, I am privileged to be able to speak regularly to bereaved parents, who tell me about the fantastic care they received from midwives and MSWs. Bereaved parents tell me how sensitive and personalised care has had a positive impact on their wellbeing. No level of care can take away the pain bereaved parents feel when their baby dies, but excellent bereavement care can help them feel safe and enable them to create some warm memories during an otherwise traumatic time.
“I asked my midwife how she does it. She told me she thinks about how they’re helping parents in this situation - which is so true, and I’m forever grateful. When my son was stillborn, the care I received was amazing. When I think about the day my son was born, I feel love.”- Bereaved mum.
From listening to midwives and MSWs, we know that bereavement care is not always easy, it can be professionally and emotionally challenging, even for the most experienced of midwives. Fortunately, support, guidance and training are available.
Sands’ training opportunities include workshops and webinars designed to increase professional skills and confidence when caring for grieving families. The needs of parents and the professionals who care for them are at the centre of our training, which includes topics such as parent voice, grief, communication skills, informed choice and staff wellbeing. Sands webinars are accredited by the RCM, they are hosted live and are free to access several times a month.
The National Bereavement Care Pathway (NBCP) is being rolled out to ensure all parents receive high standards of bereavement care when their baby dies or when a pregnancy is lost. The NBCP covers five different experiences of loss: stillbirth, neonatal death, termination for fetal anomaly (TOPFA), miscarriage and sudden and unexpected death of an infant (SUDI). Each pathway is based on the 9 Bereavement care standards:
The NBCP guidance documents are a useful source of information for midwives and MSWs and an eLearning module to supplement the NBCP is also available on eLearning for Health.
In addition to training and guidance, we know it’s vital that midwives and MSWs are properly supported in their role. Providing sensitive emotional support following bereavement is different for everyone, whether you are a parent or a professional, so the advice we give is: find what works for you. The Sands Helpline is one option, Sands is there for anyone effected by the death of a baby, including midwives, MSWs and other professionals.
Access the RCM Sands webinar series on bereavement care