Standards In Perinatal Bereavement Care: A Geographical Lottery?

Whilst having my usual morning coffee and reading the newspapers this morning, I stumble across the following headline: “Premature baby ‘left to die alone in sluice room’ at failing NHS hospital”. My heart sinks and my stomach turns. My first thought was “Not again”?.

For the last decade I have headed up The Foundation for Infant Loss Training, an organisation that is passionate about raising perinatal bereavement care standards in the UK.

Following the loss of my own daughter Marnie to SIDS in 2004, I was appalled at the lack of care and support given to me by healthcare professionals. A feeling of “falling out of the system”, no counselling was ever offered to us, terrible cliches used by “educated” health professionals (At least you know you can get pregnant!, Have another baby!, God needed a special Angel!) resulted in us feeling incredibly alone, isolated and the knowledge that nobody cared.

Furthermore, I was expected to attend my six week check two days after the loss of baby Marnie at the same time as other mums (picture the scene – lots of very happy mothers holding their noisy babies sat in the Doctor’s waiting room, whilst I sat alone in utter shock, without my little one). Where was the basic care and concern?

I was also sent my daughter’s post mortem results directly at home, in a plain brown envelope, with no warning of what was inside. The contents of that report will stay with me until my dying day. I did not need to know that Marnie’s organs had all been removed and then put back in again. I did not need to know that samples of her brain, heart and liver had been retained. I would love to say that my terrible experience was an isolated one. I cannot tell you that.

Over the years I have met with thousands of bereaved parents who never cease to shock me with their tales of horror and lack of support following the devastation that is the loss of a baby. In some trusts, stillborn babies are still being delivered in delivery suites to the sounds of babies crying, excited visitors…

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