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Raising awareness of baby loss

09 October 2017
Cambridge University Hospitals fully supports Baby Loss Awareness Week, which runs from 09 to 15 October 2017.

"Baby Loss Awareness Week is an opportunity to unite bereaved parents and all those who care for them, with others across the world to commemorate their babies’ lives, and to raise awareness about the issues surrounding pregnancy and baby loss in the UK."

Selina Halsall Crowgey

A difficult subject which is often overlooked, Rosie bereavement midwife Selina Halsall Crowgey talks about her work supporting families through the loss of a baby and why raising awareness is so important.

“Although up to 15 babies die each day in the UK before, during or soon after birth, baby loss remains largely hidden, a difficult subject, often overlooked. Given the excitement and joy attributed to pregnancy, expectation and live birth, it is not so hard to imagine the absolute devastation and shock felt when a baby dies.

This year a grandfather expressed his families’ disbelief following the stillbirth of his first granddaughter. ‘We can’t believe this still happens.  How can this be happening?’

Bereavement midwife Selina Halsall Crowgey and maternity support worker Kirsty Selin, with the Aching Arms bears which are donated by parents in remembrance of their lost child and offered to other families who suffer lossCertainly attitudes and practices have changed over time. Prior to the mid-1980s pregnancy loss and the death of a baby in the early neonatal period was not widely recognised to be a major bereavement. Mothers recall having no contact with their babies and no choice as to what happened from birth. All decisions were made for them in the belief that they needed to be ‘protected’ and that parents should forget their babies and carry on as though nothing had happened.

Up until the 1960s babies that died before or at the time of birth were often buried unknown in a communal grave with other babies or alongside a random adult. Retired midwives working in the old Mill Road Maternity Hospital certainly had this experience.

‘It was thought to be right at the time. How different it was then,’ one said.

Many parents didn’t know what had happened to their babies. The Rosie Maternity Hospital still receive enquiries from past patients trying to find out what had happened in their historical past in an attempt to trace the resting place of their lost baby. We are now acutely aware of the impact that the death of a baby has always had. Thankfully now this is recognised and positive changes are being made in bereavement care following baby loss.

The Rosie Bereavement Service is provided by a team of dedicated Midwives and Maternity Support Workers to help families following the loss of their baby. Our aim is to support parents by providing them with all the information and guidance that they need to make decisions that are right for them. Mothers and partners are both involved with choices about seeing and holding their baby, or not, to memory-making and next steps. Families have the option of making their own arrangements or the hospital is able to offer a simple funeral and burial or cremation.  Charities including SANDS, Aching Arms, Simba, For Louis, and local volunteers provide supportive materials and Petals Counselling and ‘Remember My Baby’ photographers provide additional invaluable services to promote remembrance and recovery.

Baby Loss Awareness Week is an opportunity to unite bereaved parents and all those who care for them, with others across the world to commemorate their babies’ lives, and to raise awareness about the issues surrounding pregnancy and baby loss in the UK. This year the focus is upon improving bereavement care and to talk about how to better support families affected by the death of a baby.

During the week of 9-15th October the Rosie Bereavement Team will be joined by some of the wonderful charities that support our work at the Rosie Maternity Hospital to promote Baby Loss Awareness Week.  The local ‘Gathering feedback from families following the death of their baby’ questionnaire will be launched, to offer parents who have been through the service, the opportunity to tell us about what is most important to them and how we can continue to improve the care that we provide.  There will be fundraising activities, cake and bake sales, alongside information stands, in the Addenbrooke’s Concourse and Rosie Reception.

Memorial benches have been placed in the Arbory Trust Woodland Burial Ground and Cambridge City Cemetery, Huntingdon Road in dedication to “all those babies in the past, lost before life, buried unknown but not forgotten.”

If you have been affected by baby loss and would like support please contact:

The Rosie Bereavement Team
Tel: 01223 217619


Tel: 0300 688 0068