Sadly 17 babies are stillborn or die shortly after birth in the UK every DAY, which equates to 6,500 each year. The UK stillbirth rates have not changed for the past 10 years and more research is needed to find out why stillbirth happens and why the UK has one of the worst rates in the developed world. Common causes of stillbirth include physical defects (such as heart conditions, cleft lip and palate, spina bifida, limb defects, and Down's Syndrome), maternal medical problems and birth complications and infections. However, up to a third of cases cannot be explained.
On 15 May 2009, my son, my precious firstborn became one of those 17 babies. I had reached 36 weeks of pregnancy and at a routine antenatal appointment my midwife couldn't find my baby's heartbeat. I later gave birth to a perfectly formed baby boy weighing in at 5lb 4oz who we named Aidan James. His death is marked as "unexplained" on the post mortem results but it is thought that my placenta had stopped working. The shock and devastation that followed cannot be described and my life was completely turned upside down. I had no idea that babies were still dying in the UK, or how common it is.
Since then I have been blessed with another son, Tobiah Lysanias (whose name means 'goodness of God', drives away sorrows) who is now two. After he arrived safely, I did a lot of research in my local hospitals and found that more support, and easier access to new information was needed for both midwives and expectant mums. This led me to set up MAMA Academy, the pregnancy school!
MAMA (Mums And Midwives Awareness) Academy is a non-profit organisation working towards charity status to help reduce baby loss in the UK by educating mums-to-be on when they should call their midwife for advice and by keeping midwives up to date with current pregnancy research and guidelines. The midwife side of our website has been accredited by The Royal College of Midwives.
We equip mums with information about how to keep healthy, the complications they can face and what can be done, as well as provide midwives with helpful management plans to aid consistency of care across the UK. We also keep midwifes informed of various study days taking place throughout the year.
In aid of Baby Loss Awareness Week, bereaved parents have written beautiful messages for their babies on our tribute page. Please take a look and share this special page to help raise vital awareness. We also have a whole section on bereavement care for midwives, friends and work colleagues.
In April 2011, the Lancet reported that a substantial number of stillbirths are potentially preventable as they happen after 37 weeks. This is why we need to raise vital awareness of how common baby loss is, and what can be done to identify baby's at risk. A large proportion of stillbirths occur in "low risk" pregnancies and so it is vital that every mum is aware of certain complications and what to look out for.
Our Call The Midwife poster helps mums identify certain symptoms of complications and encourage them to call their maternity team for advice. Help us display them across the UK by taking them to your local GP surgery or antenatal clinic. Please visit our Call The Midwife page for more information.
We also issue e-newsletters when important guidelines are released so sign up today via our home page! You can also join our community of mums and midwives on facebook or send us a tweet!
Thank you for supporting mums and their midwives throughout their pregnancy journey.
Follow Heidi Eldridge on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@mamaacademy