Our antenatal group has lost 10 babies – we’re running for Tommy’s to say thank you for our ‘rainbows’

Parents and babies from a Manchester antenatal group of 10 couples are among those taking part in our Rainbow Race on Sunday 24 September. They’re raising money for Tommy’s in memory of the babies 6 of the couples have lost through miscarriage and stillbirth.

The Manchester Rainbow Race is a yearly fun run hosted by the Tommy’s Maternal and Fetal Health Research Centre at the University of Manchester, for families to come together and support the work we do in understanding stillbirth and developing treatments to prevent it.  

Fundraisers also support the Tommy’s Rainbow Clinic (which is based at Saint Mary’s Hospital, Manchester, and has been used as a model for clinics now running across the UK), which provides much-needed support to families who are pregnant after baby loss.  

Among this year’s participants are an antenatal group from Manchester who have welcomed 10 new babies this year, including 6 ‘rainbow babies’ – a term some parents use to describe their children born after loss.  

In the group of 10 couples, 6 couples had previously experienced stillbirth and miscarriages, losing 10 babies between them.  

Among the families is Jess Waugh and partner Jim, who are parents to Mila, 4, baby Lola, 5 months, and to a son, Louis, who the couple were devastated to lose 6 months into pregnancy in January last year.  

Since losing Louis, Jess and Jim have been committed to helping other bereaved parents, raising an incredible £10,909 including gift aid in the past year to supply baby memory boxes to hospitals to give to newly bereaved parents.  

They are now taking part in this year’s Rainbow Race to support Tommy’s, after the care they received by our Rainbow Clinic helped bring their daughter Lola safely into the world. They’re running to celebrate their rainbow babies and remember the babies that they, and others, have lost.

Jess says:  

“Louis was born in Saint Mary’s Hospital, Manchester, just weeks after we’d moved to Manchester from Brighton. We’d never stepped foot in the hospital before and felt completely disoriented when we were told the earth-shattering news that he’d died. But despite being the saddest and scariest experience of our lives, the staff at Saint Mary’s were nothing short of amazing. 

"Their bereavement midwives took Louis’ photos, hand and footprints, helped us to arrange his funeral, and provided us with counselling to help us come to terms with our loss and traumatic birth and feel supported to go through pregnancy again. They also referred us to Tommy’s research centre which we felt so fortunate to now have on our doorstep, being the only stillbirth research centre in the UK.  

“Here, they conducted a postmortem on Louis, as well as in-depth tests on the placenta, and tests on me, to try and find out why he’d had died. They couldn’t find a cause, something we later learned is the case in up to half of stillbirths. This is exactly why more research funding is needed and why we’re raising for Tommy’s: to help find more causes and treatments that will save babies’ lives."  

With their test results showing no genetic abnormalities, infections, blood clotting disorders, or thyroid disorders, and with Jess’s Vitamin D and blood sugar levels normal, the couple were given the green light to try again. Sadly, their next pregnancy also ended in loss, and their world was once again upturned. Late in 2022, Jess fell pregnant once more.  

This time, they received the support of Saint Mary’s bereavement midwives, their multiple miscarriage clinic, and Tommy’s Rainbow Clinic right from the start. Jess was prescribed progesterone pessaries, baby aspirin and high doses of folic acid, vitamin d, and omega 3, based on Tommy’s research that shows they can help improve the outcome of some pregnancies after loss. They also had more scans than in their previous pregnancies.  

“From 6 weeks, as soon as we were able to see the heartbeat, we had weekly scans which helped to assure us for a few brief moments each week that the baby was still alive," Jess says. 

“I can’t count the number of times in those early weeks that I burst into tears each time the scan showed a heartbeat flickering away in black and white, as each time we went in and the cold gel was rubbed over my growing bump, we were convinced we were going to be told, once again, that our baby had died. Once you’ve been told in a scan: ‘I’m so sorry, there’s no heartbeat,’ you can’t help but think you’ll be told this again.  

“Losing our babies and experiencing pregnancy after loss has had a huge impact on our lives. After learning about all the things that can cause baby loss, including common infections, we became extra careful, and worried that everything could harm the baby.  

“Having had to go back to work just 2 weeks after Louis had died, I later took some time off work to grieve, recover from his birth and our losses, and focus on my health and wellbeing. Being self-employed and working full time, this took a huge hit on my work and our finances, but I needed to prioritise my pregnancy.

"The reality of what people who are pregnant after baby loss go through to try and ensure a successful pregnancy is really tough, and it’s why the help of the Tommy’s Rainbow Clinic, which provides extra scans, treatments, and assurance, is just so important.  

“The care, compassion, and expertise of the amazing specialist midwife Emilie Bailey, Professor Alex Heazell, and all the Rainbow Clinic staff and bereavement midwives, helped us to make it through the most anxious 9 months of our lives. Under their expert care, we welcomed our healthy, happy daughter, Lola, into the world. We owe them everything! 

“We want to raise as much money as possible for Tommy’s and their incredible research centre and Rainbow Clinic so that others all across the UK can receive the same level of care as we did, and hopefully go on to welcome their rainbow babies too.”  


Rainbow Race 2023, in support of Tommy's, takes place on Sunday 24th September at Platt Fields Park, Fallowfield, Manchester, M14 6LA.

The race begins at 11.30am, followed by a communal picnic.

The course is 1km long. You can run, walk, hop or skip around the course and it is suitable for prams and wheelchairs.

Read more about Jess and Jim’s story and donate to their fundraising page here.

A group of mums, dads ad practice babies at an antenatal group
Photos: Jim, Mila, baby Lola and Jess, and our Rainbow Race supporters at their antenatal group