The Duchess of Cambridge has met families who have experienced baby loss as she visited a pioneering research centre working to reduce rates of miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth.
Kate marked Baby Loss Awareness Week by spending time with parents who have been supported by the national charity Tommy’s and gone on to have rainbow babies, a baby born after a previous loss.
She was introduced to Obiele and Nii-Addy Laryea who lost two babies in pregnancy before coming to a Tommy’s clinic in London, where the team performed a cervical stitch operation that kept their now two-year-old son Tetteh-Kwei safe in the womb until he was old enough to survive.
"Tommy’s changed our lives and we are eternally grateful". Obiele from London had 2 late miscarriages before referring herself to the Tommy’s Preterm Birth Clinic at St Thomas’ Hospital. She now has a 15 month old son, Tetteh-Kwei. Read Obiele's story: https://t.co/ndkpgh7Km7. pic.twitter.com/gVakBmFn3t
— Tommy's (@tommys) November 23, 2019
Kate also met Sarah and Adam Carrick who had their first son Brodie in 2015, but then experienced four miscarriages in quick succession.
They were referred to Tommy’s and welcomed Ari last year.
The duchess heard from Shema Tariq who lost her first son Altair due to a rare placenta condition.
Following ground-breaking treatment from Tommy’s in Manchester, she welcomed second son Faris in December 2018 and daughter Lyra in April this year.
After losing their firstborn son, Shema and Ian went on to have not 1 #RainbowBaby but 2 thanks to our @mrainbowclinic. Her #RainbowBabyDay blog is about the unique challenges of #PregnancyAfterLoss and how @mcr_sb_research's team supported her through it: https://t.co/VpRPlfihTs pic.twitter.com/dLUoIqxfxs
— Tommy's (@tommys) August 23, 2020
Kate, wearing a floral face mask and a white lab coat featuring the Tommy’s logo, also met medical experts on Wednesday during her visit to the Institute of Reproductive and Development Biology at Imperial College London – which is part of Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research.
She was told how they are working to understand the science behind baby loss in order to prevent it.
In the UK, one in four pregnancies end in loss during pregnancy or birth.
Each year, there are around 250,000 miscarriages and 11,000 ectopic pregnancies, while 3,000 babies are stillborn and 2,000 die shortly after birth.
Kate learned about the Covid-19 trials under way which are designed to better understand the risks of the virus to pregnant women and their babies.
The duchess was presented with a special Tommy’s candle, designed by Plum & Ashby, to allow her to take part in the global Wave of Light event to mark the end of Baby Loss Awareness Week at 7pm on Thursday.
Our lovely friend and supporter, Elle Wright has teamed up with luxury bath and body brand Plum & Ashby to create this beautiful candle, with 100% of profits being donated to our charity. ❤️
— Tommy's (@tommys) September 24, 2020
Candles will be lit across the world to remember all babies lost, and people can join in by sharing their candle on social media using #WaveOfLight.
Baby Loss Awareness Week is now in its 18th year and focuses on offering bereaved parents the chance to commemorate their babies’ lives, as well as raising awareness in the UK.
Professor Phillip Bennett, director of the Institute and Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research at Imperial, said afterwards: “One in four women experience miscarriage at least once in their reproductive lifetime, and most never find out why because healthcare professionals often simply don’t know; this can and must change.
“By finding the root causes of miscarriage, we can take steps to stop it from happening.
“For example, we know that around half of all early miscarriages are not due to genetic abnormalities, so there must be underlying causes that we can treat.”
Researchers at Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research and the University of Birmingham have shown that giving progesterone to women with early pregnancy bleeding and a history of miscarriage could lead to 8,450 more babies being born each year: https://t.co/bUXHj01dmr. pic.twitter.com/n6GUA1X0JW
— Tommy's (@tommys) January 31, 2020
Tommy’s is the largest charity funding research into the causes of baby loss, and its national research centre, a collaboration between three universities, is the biggest of its kind in Europe.
Around 24,000 women a year access treatment, support and have the opportunity to participate in research trials at the centre’s clinics.
Kate, mother to Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, is patron of The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
She shadowed midwives and consultants at Kingston Hospital’s maternity unit in south-west London in 2019.