HRH showed her support for Baby Loss Awareness Week (9-15 October) yesterday at Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research at Imperial College London by meeting families who have lost babies, as well as speaking to leading experts in pregnancy research, care and support.
Each year in the UK there are around 250,000 miscarriages* and 11,000 ectopic pregnancies**, while 3,000 babies are stillborn* and 2,000 die shortly after birth*. More than half of people surveyed last week said they’d either been personally affected by pregnancy or baby loss or knew someone who had***, so this week is a unique opportunity for everyone to come together in remembrance and let bereaved parents know they are not alone.
The Duchess heard about the latest ground-breaking studies and the importance of more pregnancy research from a host of world-renowned scientists, including Professor Siobhan Quenby from the Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research site at the University of Warwick.
Professor Quenby of Warwick Medical School and University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust said: “It was wonderful to be able to highlight the great work conducted at Warwick and beyond into preventing miscarriage to the Duchess. She was lovely and genuinely interested in our research into inflammation in the lining of the womb and miscarriage.”
HRH was given a tour of the Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research site at Imperial College London’s Institute for Reproductive and Developmental Biology by its director, Prof Phillip Bennett. Tommy’s chief executive Jane Brewin then introduced the Duchess to families who sadly experienced baby loss but have since been supported by the charity’s pioneering research clinics to have healthy children.
Obiélé and Nii-Addy Laryea lost two babies in pregnancy before coming to a Tommy’s clinic in London, where the team performed a cervical stitch operation that kept now two-year-old Tetteh-Kwei safe in the womb until he was old enough to survive. Sarah and Adam Carrick had their first son Brodie in 2015, then experienced four miscarriages in quick succession and were referred to Tommy’s, whose expert care helped bring little Ari into the world last year. Shema Tariq lost her first son Altair due to a rare placenta condition, but with cutting-edge treatment from Tommy’s in Manchester she welcomed second son Faris in December 2018 and daughter Lyra in April this year.
HRH also met with Tommy’s midwife Amina Hatia, who offers expert information and advice to expectant parents and those going through loss via the charity’s Pregnancy Hub, as well as Sands (stillbirth and neonatal death charity) bereavement specialist Clare Worgan, who provides training and support for healthcare professionals to help them give families the best possible care when the worst happens.
To end the visit, the Duchess was given a special Tommy’s candle designed by Plum & Ashby so that she can take part in the global ‘wave of light’ event to mark the end of Baby Loss Awareness Week at 7pm BST on Thursday 15 October. Candles will be lit across the world to remember all the little lives lost, and anyone can join in by sharing their candle on social media using #WaveOfLight.
Tommy’s chief executive Jane Brewin said: “Baby loss is often dismissed as ‘one of those things’ and something that ‘wasn’t meant to be’. This fatalistic attitude contributes to a failure to bring about change. Baby loss is one of the most heart-breaking things any family can experience – and one that’s endured all too frequently, but often quietly, because of this persistent stigma in society.
“Shrouding baby loss in secrecy and shame can lead to isolation for people already struggling with unimaginable grief, so this week is a crucial moment for everyone to come together in remembrance and know they are not alone. Breaking the silence is a vital step in supporting families, while our researchers continue working tirelessly to find ways of sparing others this heart-break and making pregnancy safer for all.”
Dr Clea Harmer, chief executive of Sands and Chair of the Baby Loss Awareness Alliance, added: “This year during Baby Loss Awareness Week we are highlighting the isolation many people experience after pregnancy and baby loss. In the pandemic, feelings of isolation have become more widespread than ever and many people have begun to talk more openly about grief.
“Many of those whose baby died during the pandemic will not have been able to spend time making memories or saying goodbye to their baby in the way they would have wanted to. Now more than ever, we can all come together to let those affected by pregnancy and baby loss know they are not alone, and we are all here to support them.”
To learn more about Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research please visit tommys.org and to support Baby Loss Awareness Week go to babyloss-awareness.org.
Photographs from the visit available to download from links below – credit: Kensington Palace:
Notes to editor
*** Figures are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2120 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 29th - 30th September 2020. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).
Tommy’s is a national charity that works tirelessly to reduce the UK’s unacceptable rates of miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth. 1 in 4 women will lose a baby during pregnancy or birth; we believe that every baby lost is one too many. Tommy’s funds pioneering medical research to discover the causes of baby loss and helps families at every stage of their pregnancy journeys, supporting them with expert information and care. We want to make pregnancy safer for all and ensure that excellent maternity care is available for every family, every baby, everywhere. www.tommys.org
About Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research
Miscarriage is the most common pregnancy complication, with a quarter of women experiencing at least 1 in their reproductive lifetime. This can and must change – so in 2016, Tommy’s opened the UK’s first national centre for miscarriage research. It is a unique partnership between 3 universities (Imperial College London, University of Birmingham and University of Warwick) and 4 hospitals (Queen Charlotte’s Hospital, St Mary’s Hospital, Birmingham Women’s Hospital and University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire) with a network of 4 specialist research clinics where women with a history of miscarriage can take part in trials to access cutting-edge tests and treatments.
About Imperial College London
Imperial College London is one of the world's leading universities. The College's 17,000 students and 8,000 staff are expanding the frontiers of knowledge in science, medicine, engineering and business, and translating their discoveries into benefits for our society. Imperial is the UK's most international university, according to Times Higher Education, with academic ties to more than 150 countries. Reuters named the College as the UK's most innovative university because of its exceptional entrepreneurial culture and ties to industry. www.imperial.ac.uk
Every day in the UK, 14 babies are stillborn or die shortly after birth. Sands is the leading stillbirth and neonatal death charity and exists to reduce the number of babies dying and to support anyone affected by the death of a baby, before, during or shortly after birth. The charity provides bereavement support services both nationally through its Freephone helpline, mobile app, online community and resources, and locally through a network of around 100 regional support groups based across the UK and run by trained befrienders. Sands offers a range of training programmes and bereavement care resources for healthcare professionals to ensure that every bereaved parent and family receives the best possible care wherever they are in the UK. The charity also promotes and funds research to better understand the causes of baby deaths, raises awareness, and works with governments and other stakeholders to make reducing the number of babies dying a priority. www.sands.org.uk
About Baby Loss Awareness Week
9-15 October every year is Baby Loss Awareness Week - an opportunity for those affected by pregnancy and baby loss, and their families and friends, to unite with others across the world to commemorate their babies’ lives and lost pregnancies. The charities leading Baby Loss Awareness Week are committed to raising awareness of pregnancy and baby loss in the UK and providing support to anyone affected. By working with health professionals and other organisations, the week aims to drive for improvements in care and support, and to reduce the incidence of pregnancy and baby loss. www.babyloss-awareness.org
UK participating charities: 4Louis, Abigail’s Footsteps, Abbie’s Fund, Aching Arms, Action on Pre-eclampsia, Aidan’s Elephants, APS Support, ARC (Antenatal Results and Choices), Ayrshire Baby Loss Awareness Group, Baby Lifeline, Bliss, Beyond Bea, Birmingham Women’s Hospital Charity, Cariad Angel Gowns, Child Bereavement UK, CMV Action, Doula UK, The Ectopic Pregnancy Trust, Elsie’s Moon, Ffion’s Gift, Forever Stars, Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust, Genesis research trust, Group B Strep Support, Held In Our Hearts, ICP Support, Joel - The Complete Package, Jude Brady Foundation, Kicks Count, Kit Tarka Foundation, The Last Henry’s Hope, Kiss Foundation, Life After Loss, The Lily Foundation, The Lily Mae Foundation, Little Things and Co, The Lullaby Trust, Making Miracles, MAMA Academy, The Mariposa Trust, Miscarriage Information Support Service (MISS), The Miscarriage Association, The Multiple Births Foundation, National Maternity Support Foundation, Nova Foundation, Oakley’s Gift, Our Missing Peace, Petals, Phillip’s Footprints, Pregnancy Counselling and Care (Scotland), Pregnancy Crisis Care Plymouth, Rainbow Trust, Reflect, The Rose Peters Foundation, Scottish Cot Death Trust, Sands (Stillbirth & Neonatal Death charity), SiMBA, SOFT UK, Sophia Pregnancy Loss Support, Spinal Muscular Atrophy Support UK, Tommy’s, The Twins and Multiple Births Association (Tamba), The Teddy Rose Foundation, Teddy’s Wish, TimeNorfolk, Together for Short Lives, Towards Tomorrow Together, Upon Butterfly Wings.
15 October 2020