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UK Coroners to investigate stillborn deaths

– Written by Associate Professor Jane Warland, originally posted on Stellar Research   Today I was delighted to see this story out of the UK Coroners to investigate stillborn deaths The argument put forward in this article is so compelling I think it’s worth highlighting some main points from it with a little of my own commentary: Today, the Health Secretary announced “a new maternity strategy to reduce the number of stillbirths”. This strategy centres on the investigation of still birth deaths by the new Healthcare Safety Investigations Branch but it also included a planned change in the law to allow coroners to investigate full term still birth deaths. Currently there is no requirement for a doctor to refer a still birth death to the local coroner. This echoes the current state of affairs not only in the UK but in most high income countries across the globe including Australia, … Continued

Butterfly High Tea to honour Avery

Written by Zoe Lent for Still Aware. In October 2016 I hosted a Butterfly High Tea, an initiative started by Still Aware to raise awareness surrounding stillbirth and money toward their efforts in education and prevention. I was delighted to have what I saw as an opportunity to honour my little girl Avery’s life as well as raise funds for such a good cause in her name and memory. The afternoon was filled with love and support, it was wonderful to remember Avery with my nearest and dearest. My friends and family were very generous and I gave them the option of donating cash on the day or online. I also had information leaflets on hand for pregnant guests and guests with pregnant friends and family members. A high tea is a wonderful idea as it is so elegant but also so easy to prepare for. We had simple things … Continued

Clinician management of stillbirth has a lasting impact on the parents and family

Written by Zoe Lent, for Still Aware When my daughter died, the level of grief, trauma and distress I experienced was compounded in ways I can only begin to describe, by someone who had a duty of care and responsibility to me and my well being. Someone whom I needed for professional support and guidance to make it through such a harrowing event – my obstetrician. The indifferent and at times incomprehensible care I received from this OB was in direct contrast to the sensitive and supportive care I received from the midwives who worked under him; the midwives who helped me birth my little Avery and survive those distressing first days of raw, excruciating grief without my baby girl. For this I will always remember them fondly, and be grateful to them, because they were the first people to honour my sweet baby’s life and tell me how much she … Continued

Being Still Aware: The importance of talking about stillbirth

Written by Sarah Langford, ACU Bachelor of Midwifery student Originally appeared in Essence: Australian Breastfeeding Association Magazine Vol53 No 3 September 2017 When I was pregnant I tried to cocoon myself in a happy bubble, I didn’t want to hear any “horror stories.” The underlying (naïve) assumption being that as long as I kept a positive attitude I could keep my baby safe. Unfortunately this personal superstition carried over to my professional life. In my role as a student midwife I avoided the subject of stillbirth with the women I supported through pregnancy because I didn’t want to frighten them. But choosing silence ensures the continued cultural taboo around stillbirth. A taboo which leaves families feeling isolated in the face of tragedy. In contrast, speaking openly and honestly can empower families and help reduce the current stillbirth rate, as I learned at a seminar earlier this year[i]. Stillbirth occurs when … Continued

I want change…

Written by Jane Warland for Stellar Research I joined the army against stillbirth. Why?…because I want change!… I silently stood with a few other militia 🙂 outside the Minister of Health’s office in Adelaide holding a placard which said: Why was this an important placard for me to hold? Because my baby Emma was stillborn 24 years ago and frankly I am APPALLED that we were losing 6 Australian babies a day to stillbirth then and we are STILL losing that same number to stillbirth today. What is the army all about?  StillAware have produced a document calling for “change to stop preventable stillbirth” which was recently sent to each health Minister. We are going to meet in a silent rally on the 6th of each month until the 3 actions we are calling for have been addressed. The three actions are: 1. Mandated policy 2. Coronial Jurisdiction 3. Access to information for all… … Continued

Army Against Stillbirth

Written by Till Heike-Woods for Still Aware I thought stillbirth was just that; stillbirth. Then I learnt there is a very important word that changes everything, PREVENTABLE Stillbirth. Before our family became one of the 6 Australian families per day that experience a baby’s death from stillbirth, I never knew just how prevalent this type of death a baby continues to be. Don’t get me wrong, I knew what stillbirth was; I knew that it happens, and you should monitor your baby, look for changes, be aware. Well, I thought I knew, but I didn’t – only after the fact did I understand just how critical more information and awareness can make to the outcome of a pregnancy. So that’s why I stand and join with those who are seeking improvements to policy, improvements to care and awareness that have the potential to affect real change. We can improve how … Continued

The deadly question

Written by Danielle Pollock for Still Aware. I just wanted to be a normal mum. One who didn’t have to navigate the general rules of conversation and what is appropriate. I sat in that pregnancy fitness class with other pregnant mothers, all of us rubbing our bellies with a sense of pride. I sat there with a small amount of self-satisfaction: this is what it feels like to not know any fear in pregnancy. For a brief second, I forgot. I had forgotten that I am high risk. I forgot that no matter what happens or what I might wish, I am forever a bereaved mother. This brief moment of satisfaction (and somewhat joy) was shattered when I realised that the instructor, in a completely innocent way, had started asking everyone in the room that deadly question. The one that sparks a sharp breath to all bereaved mothers. She asked; … Continued

Stillbirth, still beautiful

Written by Zoe Lent for Still Aware.   What another bereaved mother wants you to know In our society, there are many negative connotations attached to the term ‘stillbirth’. Which I suppose is understandable. To lose a life which has barely begun is, after all, one of life’s most devastating, soul shattering tragedies. We know this. But while stillbirth is heartbreaking, gut wrenching and beyond tragic, what people often forget is that in the midst of all the loss, stillbirth is still beautiful, because it is a reflection of the life and the love – and the love came first, and the love is what remains. So I want you to remember this the next time someone recoils when you speak your child’s name, or shies away when you talk about your pregnancy or birth experience, which is just as real and just as valid as theirs, or minimises or … Continued

Understanding the Support needs of Bereaved Dads

Written by Til Heike-Woods for Still Aware. For those looking in, the role a bereaved father takes in grieving for their baby may seem to them an afterthought; a supporting role, so to speak. We see the bereaved mother’s emotion, we see pictures of the beautiful babies gone to soon: but for those of us that have experienced the death of baby, or have witness those close to us be affected, we know the picture in its wider and truer form. Physically a mother has been through a singular experience, but emotionally both the mother and father have experienced a common grief; they have both lost a child. The father’s life has been just as devastated by the experience and his reality just as broken. His need for understanding and support at this time is just as real. The impact and quality of the bereavement support the father receives can … Continued

Stillbirth through the eyes of a child.

Contributed by Natalie Oldham I’m Cora, and my sister is Maisie. We are twins and we were born on the 19th of January 2012. I’m the older twin by a whole 30 seconds and boy, do I know it! Mummy and daddy aren’t together, but they are friends and they get on really well, especially for me and Maisie. Mummy tells us all the time that we are her life. That we are her strength. That we are her reason for laughing when she doesn’t even feel like smiling anymore. I don’t think mummy would be getting through this without the cuddles and kisses from me and Maisie. It was hard, learning that my baby brother wasn’t coming home from the hospitals with my mummy. I don’t like hospitals anymore. I’m only four years old. Mummy tells me that losing our little brother is something we shouldn’t have to endure – whatever that word means. She also tells us that she … Continued

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