Make it procedure for all bereaved parents to be offered appropriate aftercare/counselling
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I believe offering appropriate aftercare/counselling to bereaved parents no matter at what stage a child is lost would help immensely, it would help these families feel as though they are not just a number or a statistic who are expected to leave hospital with a few leaflets and told to contact charities who may be able to help: these charities are a godsend but the majority of them do not have the means to treat mental illness, emotional trauma or provide professional bereavement/grief counselling, the ones that do have lengthly waiting lists and limited sessions available, it would help them feel like their child mattered, that they matter, that their mental and emotional wellbeing matters. It could then help these families try and navigate their way through the storm that is the loss of a child in a healthier way. I myself am a bereaved parent, My partner Blair and I lost our son at 35 weeks and 5 days gestation on October second 2017. The midwifes who took care of me during pregnancy, during birth and in the weeks after Olivers birth were amazing they talked us through every step, they gave me strength when I had none left by believing in me and telling me I could do it, they took my son while I was sleeping after a 15 hour labour and made prints of his tiny little hands and feet and even attended his funeral and wept with us, however they were not equipt to deal with mine or my partners mental wellbeing. Grief is not something that goes away, it can hit you at anytime of anyday and can be debilitating. I asked if the hospital/nhs offered some bereavement counselling around 2 weeks after losing my son, I was told unfortunately no however you will receive it during a subsequent pregnancy if you wish. My question is what if I am not truly ready to encounter those what I can only imagine will be a terrifying nine months ? What if a woman falls pregnant again and cannot deal with the stress and anxiety of the pregnancy ? Shouldn’t these women have some form of help before making such a desicion ? I know some areas do offer appropriate aftercare for bereaved parents, why aren’t all families offered this ? I have spoken to many bereaved mothers, the majority of them and their partners were not offered appropriate support... like a bereavment suite situated away from other babies while in labour and in the days after, counselling or therapies after their loss or even a bereavment midwife. Some of the women who didn’t receive any real aftercare/help and now years later are still struggling immensely with the aftermath of the loss of their child, some of whom now struggle with mental illnesses such as PTSD, depression, anxiety the list goes on. I believe this needs to change, child loss is one of the worst pains imaginable, we will all carry our grief with us for the rest of our lives, with our purpose ripped out from underneath our feet and too many families are suffering alone. Surely the National health service has an obligation to support these families ? In 2015 on average 15 babies died during, before or shortly after birth in the uk, as many as 1 in 4 pregnancy’s will end in miscarriage and 1 in 100 women will have recurrent miscarriages. This is not something that happens once in a blue moon it happens every single day so why aren’t systems put in place to ensure these families are offered the care they need and deserve?
Some very strong women have so bravely allowed me to share some of theirs and their partners experiences of loss and the care they received, I will share them below anonymously.
It’s been almost 33 years for me, so thankfully things have improved a lot in many ways, believe it or not, but still much to do. SANDS saved my life back then, when there was no other thought or provision. I remember the aching emptiness and raging anger that life was continuing as usual. They placed me on the private ward after Holly died, but the room was next to a woman who’d just had healthy twins and it almost broke me. Whatever we can do to support understanding and help; we can achieve more together.
I wasn't offered any at all.. i suffered a stillbirth & had AFE (amniotic fluid embolism) where I had a cardiac arrest & died then was in an induced coma! I rang my doctors up and the receptionist gave me a number (lets talk about your wellbeing) they asked why I wanted it, i told them.. then they put me on a waiting list & had a ring back on a witheld number one time (missed it!) Rang the place up and they said i had to wait for another ring then received a letter instead taking me off the list, never bothered after that!!
I was given a sands leaflet pack, which had Info and contacts on it, hca refused to do hand and footprints when consultant agreed to it it, she took his hat off and used it to wipe him down before putting him in a body bag in front of me and was kicked out the hospital as they needed the room in London and live in corby (northants) so had to find somewhere to stay closeby so we could still baby and sort out birth and death certificate. I felt I wasn't allowed to do anything with him. I was referred to mind after having a breakdown after years of pretending I was ok.
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