A lack of awareness of the loss of a baby can make an already traumatic experience even more difficult.
Tragically, there were 1,719 newborn deaths in England and Wales in 2020 alone and 2,638 stillbirths and around 250,000 miscarriages in the UK.
But awareness of what these terms mean is still very limited in the UK.
UK charity Tommy’s recently conducted a survey into what Britons really know about infant loss.
While 72% of Britons were familiar with the term miscarriage, less than half were confident in explaining what miscarriage means.
Only 46% had heard of second trimester losses and only 9% of Britons had heard of the term molar pregnancy.
Only 28% felt they could confidently describe a late miscarriage, while only 24% believed they could confidently describe a molar pregnancy.
The survey shows that there is a need for more familiarity with the terminology of infant loss, with over 60% of respondents wanting more familiarity with each term.
Amina Hatia, a licensed NHS midwife and midwife manager at Tommy, spoke about supporting someone who has lost a baby.
Amina said people can make a big difference by “learning a little bit about baby loss — like the terminology of the different types of baby loss and how many people it affects.”
Amina said: “Understand that feeling alone and isolated can be one of the hardest things for those who lose a baby, so your willingness to be with them in any way is very important – more than just doing the right thing. to do.
“Acknowledge her loss — don’t flinch or think that bringing it up will remind her.” They are more than aware of their loss, the grief they feel is in their DNA so they are always aware of it – but knowing you are willing to talk about their loss makes them feel less alone. “
Amina adds that it can be helpful to be aware of your limited ability to help.
She said, “Knowing there’s no one out there who can make this better allows you to provide care and support without pressure to fix anything.”
What terms have Brits heard of and how many can they define?
- miscarriage: 72% have heard the term before, only 42% can confidently explain it
- stillbirth: 71% have heard the term before, only 40% can confidently explain it
- premature birth: 70% have heard the term before, only 40% can confidently explain it
- Ectopic Pregnancy: 64% have heard the term before, only 30% can confidently explain it
- Dismissal for medical reasons: 57% have heard the term before, only 35% can confidently explain it
- Second trimester loss (late miscarriage): 46% have heard the term before, only 28% can confidently explain it
- newborn death: 43% have heard the term before, only 27% can confidently explain it
- molar pregnancy: 9% have heard the term before, only 24% can confidently explain it
- None of the above: 8% have never heard of it
Avoid saying anything that expresses a request from the bereaved
Instead of burdening a loved one with questions like “What do you need?”, says Amina, simple acts of kindness, such as a ticket at the door, a coupon, or a meal gift, can go a long way.
The words “at least” make no sense when someone has lost a baby
As Amina suggests, it can be more distressing to try to “look on the bright side” at a time when one is experiencing unimaginable grief – and understandably so.
Be prepared to express openness and availability
By simply communicating that you’re here to listen, you can encourage someone to open up – if they want to.
Amina says it might be worth saying something like, “I know you may not want to talk about what happened, but please know I’m here to listen if you ever do.”
If possible, share your own story
Amina advises that it is important to be careful with this approach, as the experience of loss is personal.
However, it can be helpful to say something like, “I’m not exactly sure what you’re going through, but I’ve been through something similar, so I’m here if you need me.”
Let them guide you
Ultimately, the person whose feelings matter most is the bereaved.
Or as Amina said, “If they don’t want to talk, respect that.”
Baby Loss Terminology:
- miscarriage: Losing a pregnancy during the first 24 weeks.
- stillbirth: When a baby dies after 24 weeks of pregnancy and before or during delivery, it is called a stillbirth. Unfortunately, in England it occurs in about 1 in 280 births
- premature birth: If a baby is born before the 37th week of pregnancy, it poses a risk to the baby.
- Ectopic Pregnancy: In an ectopic pregnancy, a fertilized egg begins to grow in a place other than the normal lining of the uterus, usually in one of the fallopian tubes. An ectopic pregnancy affects about 1 in 100 pregnancies and creates a potentially life-threatening situation for the mother.
- Dismissal for medical reasons: If tests show that your baby has a serious genetic or structural condition (not growing normally), you may be offered a termination of pregnancy (abortion) for medical reasons to terminate your pregnancy.
- loss in the second trimester: Also known as a late miscarriage, which occurs during your second trimester.
- newborn death: When a baby dies within 28 days of birth.
- molar pregnancy: There are two types of molar pregnancies, a full mole and a partial mole. A complete birthmark occurs when a single sperm fertilizes an “empty” egg that contains no genetic material from the mother, so that a fetus does not develop. A partial mole occurs when two sperm cells fertilize a normal egg. There are usually some early signs of a fetus, but it will not develop into a baby.
Tommy’s definitions for the UK baby loss charity.
I am a highly experienced and well-connected journalist, with a focus on healthcare news. I have worked for several major news outlets, and currently work as an author at 24 news recorder. My work has been featured in many prestigious publications, and I have a wide network of contacts in the healthcare industry. I am highly passionate about my work, and strive to provide accurate and timely information to my readers.