It is Baby Loss Awareness Week and the theme this year is ‘Stepping Stones’ which involves talking about and acknowledging the various journeys people take as they navigate grief and the many complex emotions that accompany the passing of an infant.
Two people with a great deal of understanding in this area are Matt Procter and Rhian Morris, Bereavement Midwives for Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals (DBTH).
The role of the bereavement midwife can vary from Trust to Trust, but at DBTH they support all families with any pregnancy loss, at any gestation.
Matt said: “I take the most pride in helping families to regain trust in an organisation that they potentially lack faith in.
“To be able to demonstrate an open and honest approach when their world has ended is very meaningful.”
Matt and Rhian have been in post since January 2021 and support families who have had a six-week pregnancy loss, ectopic pregnancies, molar pregnancies, terminations for medical reasons, late miscarriages, stillbirths, neonatal deaths, and babies that are having palliative care.
Rhian, who moved to the role after caring for several families who had experienced baby loss, said: “I wanted the opportunity to be able to enhance the services that our families receive.
“Our role is to not only support the families through one of the most difficult times in their lives, but it is also to coordinate the ‘behind the scenes’ care.”
This enables investigations and further care to be delivered in a timely manner, face to face with their consultant and us to ensure future planning.
The team also work closely with the coroner’s office, registrar’s office and multi-faith agencies.
Rhian goes on: “We support families through one of the worst times in their lives. To then be the first point of call when they have found out they are expecting again, I personally feel that they have built that trust with us and are reaching out for support.”
As part of their role, Matt & Rhian give all families that have had a pregnancy loss under 24 weeks and have sadly been born with no signs of life the opportunity to say goodbye to their baby in a monthly hospital cremation service.
This service is available to access via an online streaming service if they feel that this is more suitable for them.
The pair both agreed that their shared experience of supporting families through baby loss, and the need for better bereavement services, felt like a natural progression to the bereavement team as it now exists.
The Bereavement Team receive calls and referrals from a variety of different areas within our hospitals; maternity wards, the Emergency Department, Gynaecology, Early Pregnancy Assessment Unit, GPs, out of area hospitals and other bereavement teams.
When accepting a referral, the pair do their upmost to give each family the time they need; centralising their needs is at the heart of what we do, Matt explained.
“This can be a holistic and individual pathway that is often created on a family-by-family basis, as we have the strong ethos that no two families are the same.”
As part of Baby Loss Awareness Week, Matt and Rhian have hosted a number of awareness stands across the region, as well as managing raffles and other fundraising events to raise money for the Trust’s ‘Serenity Appeal’.
The fundraising project, run by Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals (DBTH) Charity, hopes to raise £150,000 to build a specialist suite for those who suffer baby loss. To date, the appeal has raised over £80,000.
To find out more about the Serenity Suite and our other fundraising opportunities, please visit the DBTH Charity website at this address: https://dbthcharity.co.uk/appeals/