We are very grateful to SANDS: Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Charity for providing the following for our #CancerandPregnancy Awareness Week
When a baby dies during pregnancy, at or shortly after birth the bereavement care received by the parents can have a huge impact on their short and long term well-being. Good care cannot take away their grief and pain, but it can make all the difference in terms of their experience and recovery.
The hours and days immediately following the death of a baby are crucial. It is the only opportunity parents have to spend time with their baby and create precious memories. It can also be very isolating so having a trained professional on hand to sensitively guide them through can change their experience significantly.
The theme of this awareness week is maintaining normality, so I encourage you to help any bereaved mother with cancer through her new normal as a bereaved mum. It is so important that when a baby dies, the mother and her partner are supported and cared for as bereaved parents, as well as oncology patients.
All women and their partners should receive the same high standard of individualised, empathic and sensitive bereavement care when their baby dies, whatever their circumstances. Where possible, bereaved parents should be able to stay in touch with the bereavement midwife and be supported to spend time with their baby in an appropriate environment – usually a bereavement suite within the maternity or neonatal unit.
Creating memories is vital – parents should be offered the opportunity to hold their baby, take photographs, and make hand and footprints. Parents should be given information about the option of taking their baby home, or out of the hospital, to make memories outside of a clinical environment and possibly with friends and family.
Bereavement support literature should be given to parents to read at their own pace. This literature will acknowledge them as bereaved parents, offer important information and possibly break some of the isolation many parents feel when their baby dies. Parents should also receive details of baby loss support organisations.