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Leigh Kendall

Writer at, empty-armed mother, patient leader.

Leigh Kendall is an empty-armed mother and survivor of HELLP syndrome, a rare life-threatening pregnancy complication. Through her blog, Headspace Perspective, she talks about the death of her baby son Hugo (who was born 16 weeks prematurely due to HELLP syndrome) at the age of 35 days.

Since Hugo's death, she has been raising awareness of HELLP syndrome, birth trauma, premature babies, baby loss, and living with grief.

Leigh also set up an organisation called Bright in Mind and Spirit, named in Hugo's honour. The organisation seeks to improve healthcare communication using the benefit of her personal experience as a patient and parent, as well as her years of NHS communications experience.

In 2015, Leigh was named by the Health Service Journal in a list of 50 Patient Leaders for using her experience to improve care for future patients.

Kia Kaha - Stay Strong

Kia kaha is Maori for stay strong. It's one of the Maori phrases I learned when I lived in the Land of the Long White Cloud more than a decade ago now (many Maori words and phrases are in general use in New Zealand).
22/12/2015 11:03 GMT

Why World Prematurity Day Matters

You have just given birth to your precious baby, far too early. Your baby's birth is likely to have happened suddenly: your pregnancy, that precious time spent with your baby inside you, kicking away, ripped away.
17/11/2015 16:51 GMT

No Child Born to Die

I would love to fix the world. Let no child be born to die. Let no human being suffer. Sometimes the scale of destruction in the world can feel so overwhelming we can wonder what a difference our actions can possibly make.
08/09/2015 11:18 BST

An Open Letter to a Recently-Bereaved Mother

I am not going to tell you what to do, how to grieve. I cannot do those things, because while we may share a similar experience in common our individual journeys are so very personal. I felt so alone after my son died, and I hope this letter offers even a tiny bit of comfort to you.
28/07/2015 17:44 BST

Why I Am Glad To Be Growing Another Year Older

It's an irony of life that when as children we are eager to be older, to be an adult with responsibilities and to make our own decisions. Yet when we are an adult we wish we could liberate ourselves from those wished-for responsibilities, slow down the clock against ageing.
22/07/2015 11:02 BST

What I Want the National Maternity Review Team to Know

That postnatal wards need to have a greater awareness of the needs of mothers whose babies are being cared for in a neonatal unit. It is difficult enough for us being on a ward with women who have their babies with them.
13/07/2015 12:20 BST

Why We Need to Reconsider How We Engage With Bereaved People

Losing someone you love is difficult enough, living without someone you love is heartbreaking enough, living day by day is exhausting enough without the added frustrations and torments contributed by those who exclude and patronise those living with grief. The patronising comments and exclusion are usually unintended, I know. That knowledge does not make the sting any less, though.
05/07/2015 23:46 BST

The Lament of the Mother of a Premature Baby

I never expected an emergency C-section, under general anaesthetic and accompanied by seemingly most of the hospital's maternity team's staff. I never expected my partner to have to wait, terrified, in a separate room to hear whether I and his baby had survived.
29/05/2015 18:45 BST

How This Empty-Armed Mother Deals With Baby Photos on Facebook

Other women have every right to share their baby news, their photos, and their updates, just as I share photos of Hugo's life, and his grave garden. I would never dream of asking them to stop sharing photos of their bumps or babies. Rather than continue to torture myself, I have started unfollowing, for now, on Facebook some women...
19/04/2015 19:59 BST

There Are Always Options for Compassionate End-Of-Life Care

The distinction in Hugo's care between 'there being no hope' and 'no further treatment' being worthwhile with 'nothing more can be done' is crucial. Nothing more could be done to save Hugo's life, but we were able to give him a good death.
26/03/2015 13:50 GMT

Language Matters! Maternity Experience and NHS Change Day

Being in any healthcare environment for any reason can feel disempowering for a patient. Effective communication between healthcare professionals and patients can help build trusting relationships, improve patient outcomes and patients' experiences.
09/03/2015 16:05 GMT

Five Reasons Why All Preemies Are Amazing

Many premature babies do eventually go home with their proud and grateful parents. These babies are inspiring, as many stories outline. The proliferation of success stories can give the impression that all preemie babies get to go home and live happily ever after. Sadly, that is not the case.
29/01/2015 15:16 GMT

Nine Tips for Parents of Babies in a Neonatal Unit

These tips include advice I was given, and things I learned the hard way while my son Hugo was being cared for. Having a baby in a neonatal unit is so stressful - I hope this helps other mummies and daddies.
22/01/2015 16:09 GMT

Why The Differences Between Empathy and Sympathy Matter

Grief is entirely individual, and the grieving person has to respond to their grief in a way that is relevant to them. How they respond may change over time. The difficulty with the platitudes detailed above is that they infer a judgement about how the person is grieving, the time they are taking over their grief, or how they are feeling.
21/01/2015 12:34 GMT

Living as an Empty-Armed Mother After Surviving HELLP Syndrome

Left untreated, both conditions are likely to result in the deaths of both mum and baby. The only cure is for the baby to be born. My partner and I were both utterly devastated - we knew the chances of our baby's survival at that stage were slim.
15/01/2015 17:56 GMT