Baby charity Tommy’s and the tragedy of stillbirth

Guest post by Kate Davis-Holmes
Sometimes we find ourselves facing a stressful time with lots going on in our work and personal lives. That is how I feel at the moment with a house move to sort, amongst other things.

Then you wake up one morning and discover that someone has lost a child. For a day or more, you get a new sense of perspective. You hug your children that much tighter and when they ask for your time, you give it freely instead of getting on with other things.

By now most people reading this post will be aware that Take That’s singer and songwriter Gary Barlow and his wife Dawn lost their baby girl Poppy this week to stillbirth.

Can you remember all the things you did?

If you are a parent can you remember all the things you did to get ready for the birth of your child? Important choices include what equipment you will need, how you will decorate the nursery and perhaps the most challenging, what you will choose to call your little boy or girl.

So how does it feel to come home from the hospital without a baby? What happens when you walk into that lovely nursery with all your hopes dashed? How do you explain to your other children they will not be playing with an expected new sibling after all?

I think, to my shame, the first time I thought about stillbirth was when a Coronation Street storyline covered the issue. I remember thinking it was a bit far-fetched. After all, there could not be many babies born stillborn in the Western World.

Very close to home

Then my best friend from school revealed her sister had more than one stillbirth. I was shocked. This felt very close to home.

When I became involved in blogging, I discovered a blog by a woman who had lost her little girl to stillbirth. She took the amazingly brave step of posting a picture of her baby on her blog. The baby was beautiful and the devastation was etched on her parents’ faces.

Did you know 4,000 babies are lost to stillbirth every year? 4,000 empty cots, 8,000 grief-stricken parents and a loss that ripples across families, friends and colleagues and down the generations.

The facts around stillbirth in the UK

  • About one in every 200 babies are stillborn every year in the UK
  • In 2008 there were 4043 stillbirths, of which 269 were twins
  • Stillbirth rates among twins continue to drop, with a rate of 11.2 per 1,000 births
  • Improved reporting and analysis has allowed unexplained stillbirths to drop to 23% of the total, from around 50%

From a 2008 report on perinatal mortality in the UK during 2008. Source: Tommy’s

What can we do to help?

We can ask what grieving parents would like from us rather than avoiding them or saying the wrong thing. We can offer our practical help, perhaps looking after children or supplying a good meal.

For anyone affected by stillbirth, Tommy’s the baby charity can offer information and support. They are also doing medical research on the issue so that, hopefully, in the future there will be more happy outcomes to pregnancies. Check out what they are doing here.

I support Tommy’s when I shop online via the rather wonderful Give as you Live. Every time I shop online I know that a percentage of what I spend will be donated by the retailer to Tommy’s so that they can continue to provide support to parents and parents-to-be confronted with stillbirth, miscarriage or premature babies.

Support Tommy’s or a charity of your choice

So whether it is booking a holiday or doing my weekly supermarket shop, I can rest assured I am supporting a marvellous cause. I do this as part of the #mums4good campaign and whether you are a parent or not, you can join me and support either Tommy’s or a charity of your choice.

Sign up and do it now at www.give.as/savingbabieslives. You can find more posts about my fundraising for Tommy’s over on my blog.

A guest post by Kate Davis-HolmesThe video below tells one story of how Tommy’s helps women who have lost babies during pregnancy.