In 2004 my life changed forever. I became pregnant with my first child and was over the moon. I had always heard that you shouldn’t really tell people about your pregnancy until you reached the 12 week stage and had your first scan as that was when you were “safe” and were told you would be bringing home a living baby. I had heard of babies dying, but only in soap operas; it wasn’t as if it happened to real life people was it?
At 36 weeks pregnant I experienced placenta abruption and my son Xander died inside me, he was born sleeping two days later and two weeks later we held a funeral for him. Why did I not know this was a possibility? Why, now it had happened, was I suddenly meeting so many people who it had happened to or knew someone it had happened to? Why do people not talk about it? Why had I never heard of Sands (stillbirth and neonatal death charity) before? The reason – people don’t talk about baby loss because it’s taboo.
But why? We talk about cancer, we talk about heart disease, we talk about how we can prevent some of these things – cut down on cholesterol, wear sun cream, stop smoking - but we don’t talk about how we can help to prevent baby loss. This is slowly changing, but what can we do to speed this up?
I found after my loss that some of the easiest people to talk to were children as they wouldn’t shy away from uncomfortable questions and appreciated you straight talking to them. It made me think about breaking the taboo and how if we target the next generation we can make something a non taboo subject. This next generation will be the next generation of parents. Families who have lost babies and who have sunshine babies (babies before a loss) or go on to have rainbow babies (babies after a loss) are also more open with them, and they are aware of their brother/sister who is only with them in spirit and not in person; they then tell other children and also want to become a next generation of fundraisers and start raising awareness.
Schools have sex education classes to try and prevent STDs and young pregnancies but if we were to extend on that and say, “however if you do become pregnant, not every pregnancy ends happily”, and then talk about babies with disabilities, miscarriages, stillbirth and neonatal death. Make children aware that it’s okay to talk about these things. It’s something they should be aware of, I question that the reason we are not is because as adults we are too uncomfortable talking about it. We teach about contraception, but we should also say when the time is right, in many years to come, and they do decide to start trying for a baby, all the things they can do to help themselves and the baby and give out the safer pregnancy message.
The subject could be reinforced at youth clubs etc, with safer pregnancy message posters being advertised on walls etc. Let’s educate our youth as they are our future teachers, politicians, drs, nurses, researchers, writers etc. In other words – OUR FUTURE. We give them the knowledge every day to prepare for their life ahead, let’s give them ALL the facts and not just the ones we are comfortable talking about. With them on board we can break the taboo but also possibly reduce the figure of 15 babies a day who die.
All of these opinions are my own but if you have been effected by a loss then there are charities out there who can support you. Please don’t be alone and suffer in silence. Sands is there for anyone effected by the death of a baby. If you would like more details of support or how you can support the charity please go to www.sands.org.uk or email our helpline on firstname.lastname@example.org