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How do I face Mother’s Day without my baby?

Written by Till Heike-Woods, for Still Aware This time of year can seem heavy and confusing for mothers who have experienced the death of a baby. Bereavement for everyone is different, however Mother’s Day and Bereaved Mother’s Day are undoubtedly a time where you can feel the raw emotion of the loss of your child anew. On this day my fellow beautiful bereaved mums, be gentle on yourself. If you feel a situation is triggering your emotions, be mindful of that; acknowledge the love, acknowledge the loss. Don’t push the emotions aside, remember your love and grief are tangled together, you have to feel the grief to get to the love. Take time out to re-centre yourself, those emotions are your connection to your child. A few practical suggestions for mum: Writing a letter to your baby Write a letter to yourself at the time of your loss, expressing support … Continued

What not to say to a bereaved parent

Written by Zoe Lent, for Still Aware I have enough loss mum friends that I’ve just about heard all of the “what not to says” under the sun. While most of them are well intentioned, some are not, and instead come from the observers’ own selfish desire to feel “comfortable”, with little regard for the feelings and day to day realities of the family directly affected. “At least” The things people say after this phrase. The worst one I heard was – “at least you can have a baby. Such and such (who incidentally was not in a relationship nor trying to get pregnant) may never have a baby”. Oh, okay. My baby died but I should be grateful I can get pregnant when people who aren’t even trying to get pregnant, may not. Thumbs up for logic. And as everyone knows, once you’ve lost a baby you are certainly guaranteed … Continued

Silence

The unrelenting silence around every aspect of baby loss Written by Zoe Lent, for Still Aware When you lose a baby, there is an awful, deafening, suffocating silence that envelops the delivery room. Then it slowly seeps into every corner of what’s left of your life, taking over your home, your car, your place of work and most painfully, your heart. The silence is obvious in every waking moment of your life, because it represents the space in which your child should be sitting, noisy and demanding, making their very presence and every need known. We can’t control the silence in our homes and our hearts. We have to carry it. But then the silence creeps out into your social circle. People stop texting, calling, stopping by. Because they don’t know what to say. They don’t know how to be around you. And they don’t know how to support you … Continued

Teaching School Age Students about Pregnancy Loss

Written by Till Heike-Woods for Still Aware Pregnancy loss currently sits at 1 in 4 known pregnancies.  Student learn about percentages from their early years of schooling, so any school kid knows 1 in 4 is a significant number. In terms of experiences that could develop in their future, it’s definitely up there as an experience they are likely to encounter. Miscarriage, stillbirth, perinatal loss, newborn death – if these are words students are familiar with- a concept they have heard before- it could begin to broaden the conversation, empower by educating, and assisting the next generations to better support one another. As with all discussions involving weighty subject matter, the key is age appropriateness. Schools aim to provide students with academic intelligence, but we should also put a value on the need for the growth of emotional intelligence. This means giving growing minds access to information that could empower … Continued

The danger of misinformation in pregnancy apps

Written by Zoe Lent for Still Aware Like many mothers, I was so excited to be expecting my first baby and downloaded about half a dozen pregnancy apps to my phone so I could follow my baby’s growth and development. It was a little thrill to read what my baby was doing in there “This week she’s developing fingernails! This week she can drink her pee!” The apps were so informative regarding each stage of pregnancy that I never considered the advice they were giving could be both dangerous and detrimental to my baby’s life. So when one app told me that the baby’s movements may start slowing around 35 weeks due to decreasing space to move in my womb, I thought, okay then, this baby’s right on schedule. What the app didn’t tell me was that a reduction in movements is one of the only signs some mothers get … Continued

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

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