Baby Loss Awareness Week: Wave of Light will see candles lit in memory of lost babies

Baby Loss Awareness Week takes place from October 9 to 15 and aims to raise awareness about pregnancy and baby loss in the UK.

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Throughout the week, bereaved parents and their families and friends unite with others across the world to commemorate the lives of babies who died during pregnancy, soon after birth and in infancy.

Led by Sands, the Baby Loss Awareness Alliance is a collaboration of more than 90 charities working together to break the taboo and to drive tangible improvements in policy, bereavement care and support for anyone affected by the death of a baby.

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Louisa Jones, a maternity care assistant who also specialises in bereavement, said it was important to raise awareness of baby loss.

Louisa works for the NHS in Sussex and said, “We are looking at raising much-needed awareness regarding baby loss.

“We do this on a yearly basis where the whole country participates in raising awareness throughout the week and it ends with a national Wave Of Light on the October 15 between 7pm and 8pm.

“Landmarks all over the UK light up for either the week or the Wave Of Light itself. We have managed to secure the participation of Brighton Palace Pier and also our trusts very own Princess Royal hospital in Haywards Heath.

“Families all over the world light candles in memories of all babies lost.”

Many parents who have been affected by the death of a baby post pictures of their candles on social media to remember their lost little ones and raise awareness.

According to Sands, the stillbirth and neonatal death charity, the death of a baby is sadly not a rare event: around 14 babies die before, during or soon after birth every day in the UK.

Stillbirth rates remained largely unchanged from the late 1990s to 2011. From 2012 the rate started to fall. But Sands says more deaths could be prevented.

The number of babies who die in the neonatal period (the first 28 days after birth) has dropped over the last decade, largely because of advances in medical knowledge and clinical care. But recently the mortality rate has plateaued.

Dr Clea Harmer, chief executive of Sands and chair of the Baby Loss Awareness Alliance, said: “This year during Baby Loss Awareness Week we are highlighting the isolation many people experience after pregnancy and baby loss. Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, feelings of isolation have become more widespread than ever and many people have begun to talk more openly about grief.

“Many of those whose baby died during the pandemic will not have been able to spend time making memories or saying goodbye to their baby in the way they would have wanted to. Now more than ever, we can all come together to let those affected by pregnancy and baby loss know they are not alone and that we are all here to support them.”

Anyone who has been affected by pregnancy or baby loss can find support at www.sands.org.uk.