Why is Baby Loss Awareness Week Important in 2022?

baby loss awareness

This week marks the 20th anniversary of Baby Loss Awareness Week. This week gives parents and families the opportunity to remember their babies’ lives, raise awareness about pregnancy and miscarriage, and drive progress in the treatment and care of those affected.

Baby Loss Awareness Week encourages us to advocate for advancements in the healthcare sector. These advancements range from more compassionate medical care to an expansion of mental health services to support struggling families and friends.

Most importantly, Baby Loss Awareness Week aims to provide bereaved parents a sense of community; a space where people can speak about their shared experiences and grief openly and without judgement.

What are some recent facts about baby loss in the UK?

Baby loss is far more common than most people think. Nonetheless, there are countless misconceptions that make it a taboo subject in society.

In the UK, 1 in 3 deaths of children under the age of 18 are newborns. It is estimated that around 1 in 5 pregnancies end in miscarriage, with an additional 14 babies dying every day before, during, or shortly after birth.

Unfortunately, the UK has one of the highest stillbirth rates in the developed world. The majority of these stillbirths are considered preventable as they occur extremely close to term.

In 2015, the UK government announced its ambition to reduce stillbirths by 20% by 2020 and 50% by 2030. This has led to both the government and the NHS promoting several initiatives aimed at improving pregnancy care, including upgrading systems and machinery used for detecting possible problems during pregnancy, and increasing access to resources and education.

Recent figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that the number of babies who are stillborn or die within 4 weeks of birth in the UK is falling.

There is, however, no room for complacency. Every two hours, a family is faced with the tragic loss of their baby, and there are steps that can be taken in each sector to reduce this number.

What is the history of Baby Loss Awareness Week?

The inaugural Baby Loss Awareness Week took place in 2002. It was founded by a group of parents in the UK, inspired by Pregnancy and Loss Remembrance Day in the United States.

That year, thousands of pounds were raised for charities and organisations supporting bereaved parents through the sale of pink and blue ribbon pins. These pins have now become the national symbol of Baby Loss Awareness Week.

What is the theme of Baby Loss Awareness Week in 2022?

The theme of this year’s Baby Loss Awareness Week is ‘Stepping Stones.’ The theme reflects the fact that parents affected by baby loss find themselves on a new path they never expected to be on.

Every bereaved parent’s journey through loss and grief is unique. The steps they take to process their fluctuating emotions of sadness, anger, confusion, and guilt are different. A step one person may consider a milestone in their recovery process may be considered a pitfall for another.

This does not mean that step is wrong, and one is right, it just means that different people navigate complicated and difficult emotions differently.

Parents are not the only ones affected by baby loss. In fact, we know that friends and families sometimes find themselves struggling. Often, people avoid discussions about baby loss with the parents because they do not know what to say or fear causing further trauma by saying the wrong thing.

This silence can lead to feelings of guilt and resentment between all of the affected parties. As such, one of the primary goals of Baby Loss Awareness Week this year is to make this experience feel less lonely for parents and their loved ones.

What can you do to help parents grieving a baby loss?

  • Be patient.
  • Check in with the parents.
  • Listen when they share their feelings.
  • Ask exactly what you can do to help.
  • Attend the baby’s funeral or memorial service

How to support colleagues who have experienced baby loss at work?

Baby loss can be a life-altering event that is difficult to process for most parents. We know that grief can have a long-term impact on a person’s mental health. After a loss, work may be the last thing on a parent’s mind, but there are some steps an employer can take to show compassion and support.

  • Offer time off.
  • Train managers on how to conduct themselves sensitively and appropriately when an employee has experienced baby loss.
  • Have flexible working policies in place. Flexible working policies allow you and your staff to have the option of working on different days depending on how they are feeling.
  • Have an open-door policy for employees to openly discuss their transition back into work and any support they may need from the employer and other colleagues.

Image by Juan Manuel Sanchez.