Back in the old days – when men were men and women were expected to be grateful – anyone who miscarried was told to forget all about a still birth and try again.
Modern medicine has thankfully realised that miscarriages are as much a source of grief as a death in the family.
A charity which supports parents dealing with early pregnancy loss has launched at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust – the first of its kind in London.
Cradle offers services for bereaved families including comfort packs and peer support with a national network of volunteers.
Research nurse Leanna Brace set up the partnership with Cradle after bereaved parents said they isolated and found it hard to talk about it with family, friends and colleagues.
The packs have toiletries and notepads for them to write down questions or thoughts, as well as a “Dear friend” letter with details of how to contact the charity.
Serafina Salvador, 39, had a miscarriage in early 2018 after a series of scans at St Thomas’ Hospital couldn’t find a heartbeat for her baby.
Writer Serafina, from Clapham, said: “It was my first pregnancy. I was quite shocked – I had not even considered the possibility of a miscarriage.
“I had no idea of what was to come or how this would play out. My realisation was more pronounced once I had had the miscarriage, because I realised so many women I knew had had one, but never talked about it.
“Pregnancy is not just a physical change in a woman’s body – it’s a psychological and hormonal change, too. After a miscarriage, these changes affect women in different ways. Education about ways the family can heal from it are essential to the process.”
Serafina has since created a series of podcasts titled Let’s Just Talk about It, to support other women and to break down the social stigma around discussing early pregnancy loss.
She said: “It’s important for women to have people to talk to about this, who will honour their feelings. Families can heal in privacy rather than suffer in silence.”
Leanna said: “At St Thomas’, we do everything we can to support parents when they have the devastating experience of losing a baby, but we are aware that more support is needed for those experiencing early pregnancy loss.
“Cradle is about being there at the scan, in the hospital room and following through to when parents go home. Its ambassadors and networks are important for families, giving them the opportunity to talk about their pregnancy and their grief around losing a baby in such a supportive way.”
Cradle was founded by Louise Zeniou, who had an ectopic pregnancy in 2015. The charity has a national team of early pregnancy loss ambassadors, who all have personal experience of losing a baby. It operates in 40 trusts across the country, providing counselling while also training healthcare professionals to support bereavement care for early pregnancy loss.
Louise said: “We are hugely passionate about supporting healthcare professionals who deliver bereavement care. Early pregnancy loss can be physically and emotionally painful, and we are here to support anyone affected by pregnancy loss or infertility. Thank you to Guy’s and St Thomas’ for launching Cradle.”
A yellow rose donated by David Austin Roses was planted in the gardens in front of St Thomas’ Hospital to commemorate all lost early pregnancies. Thanks to The Friends of Guy’s and St Thomas’, Marriott Hotels, Lush, Savers, Neon Sheep and The Body Shop for their donations to the comfort bags.
Pictured top: Research nurse Leanna Brace and Cradle’s Dawn Brown plant a rose of remembrance at St Thomas’ Hospital garden
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