Baby Loss Awareness Week

By RCM Director for Wales Julie Richards and Head of Bereavement Care & Hospital Liaison Marc Harder on 13 October 2023 RCM UK Research Safety Wellbeing Of Women Women Sands

RCM Director for Wales Julie Richards and Head of Bereavement Care & Hospital Liaison Marc Harder at the baby loss charity Sands have co-written a blog for Baby Loss Awareness Week (BLAW) 2023.

Baby Loss Awareness Week (BLAW) presents us with the opportunity to not only think about the tragedy of babies’ lives lost, but also to reflect on the care and support offered to those who need it most in their darkest moments.

Since 2017, Sands has been leading a collaboration of partners including the RCM to develop a UK-wide National Bereavement Care Pathway (NBCP) for pregnancy and baby loss. The NBCP was launched during BLAW in 2017 and has been live in England and Scotland for some time, and we’ve seen significant strides in the quality and consistency of bereavement care provision.

The NBCP promotes nine bereavement care standards relating to different aspects of the bereavement care journey for five experiences of baby loss – miscarriage (including ectopic and molar pregnancy), Termination of Pregnancy for Foetal Anomaly (TOPFA), stillbirth, neonatal death and Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI). These include aspects that are more well-known such as hospitals providing a bereavement suite or bereavement room along with the opportunity to make memories, and bereavement care training to be provided by knowledgeable healthcare professionals.

Perhaps less publicly acknowledged but nonetheless of equal importance are standards relating to the sharing of bereavement information across healthcare professions within and out with the hospital setting, and the importance of ensuring that emotional and mental health needs are assessed before discharge.

It’s also important that healthcare professionals are given all the tools, resources and support that they need to equip them to provide the very best bereavement care available to them. For that reason, we have developed pathways, websites, toolkits, best practice networks and regular practitioner workshops in England and Scotland.

We are hopeful that this collaborative approach can be replicated in Wales and are heartened by the support that has been expressed by the Welsh Government. We look forward to sharing more developments over the coming weeks and months.

At the RCM we welcome the recommendation from the recently published MatNeo Safety Support programme for Wales in regards to the design and development of the NBCP for Wales for Women and their families and look forward to better supporting our members to support women and families. 

We appreciate the value that good bereavement care has to support families whose baby has died and it is truly disappointing that families still don't always get the best care. There are opportunities with the plans to develop a clear systems (the NBCP) for health professionals to follow to ensure that practitioners understand how they can best support parents who have suffered such a tragic loss.

Watch this space for more information and please contact [email protected] with any questions or queries.