Stillbirth is the cruelest kind of death and many are preventable, because staff don’t always respond to mothers’ concerns.
Stillbirth is in the news today because new research, conducted by Professor Elizabeth Draper concludes that with improved care many stillbirths could be prevented. 1:200 births, that’s 3000, are stillborn in the UK each year and sadly, due to poor care throughout pregnancy many of these, Draper believes could be prevented. The research found that NICE guidelines were not always being followed, monitoring and screening of growth, through the plotting on graphs wasn’t always happening. More research Draper says is needed to look at reduced foetal movements during pregnancy and for women to be listened to, their concerns about reduced foetal movement acted upon. In short many of these heartbreaking scenarios could be prevented.
My book ‘Every Family Has One’ seeks to raise awareness of the agony of stillbirth.
Set in 1974 it tells the story of Kathleen, a young Catholic girl living in Liverpool, raped, sent to a Magdalene laundry in Ireland where she gives birth to a stillborn child in terrifying circumstances. These were chilling times and I have read first hand stories of Castle Pollard baby nursery in Ireland, for example where babies were born dead and the lack of care in these units because mothers were cast aside, forgotten, not given the treatment they deserved simply because they were ‘fallen’ women – unwed mothers. In 2002 a mass grave of babies and mothers was discovered in the grounds of one laundry. Through my work as a funeral celebrant I have come into contact with Magdalenes who continue to carry the cross of grief and loss and having lost my own baby in the first few months of her life I can fully understand what they went through.
In effect I merged several stories to create ‘Every Family Has One’: the forgotten plight of the Magdalenes, the story of the loss of my own baby and the agony of motherhood through so many issues such as drugs, which many of us face and have to deal with.
Understanding the long term implications of stillbirth: