Tommy’s support Sands’ #AlwaysThere campaign

Tommy’s supports Sands in ‘Continuity of Carer’ campaign, #AlwaysThere, to ensure better care for parents who are pregnant after loss.

This week, our partners at Sands are launching a campaign to call for families who are pregnant after loss to have the same maternity team looking after them and their baby from pregnancy through to birth. 

Part of the NHS Better Births strategy to improve maternity safety, and known as Continuity of Carer, this type of maternity care helps save babies’ lives and supports parents through the complex emotions and anxieties of being pregnant after losing a baby

Independent research has shown that parents who receive continuity of care are:

  • 16% less likely to lose their baby
  • 19% less likely to lose their baby before 24 weeks
  • 24% less likely to experience premature birth [1]

As well as improved clinical outcomes, women receiving Continuity of Carer are almost 8 times more likely to be attended in labour by a known midwife. [2]

It’s especially important for parents who are pregnant after loss, as research shows their next pregnancy might have a higher-risk of complications, depending on their previous experiences and medical history.

Accessing best practice care and having the same healthcare staff to support their pregnancy journey can truly make a difference.

At the moment, the standard of care given to parents who have suffered loss varies across the country, often with no continuity of care. This means some parents have to endure the distress of having to explain their previous loss to health professionals over and over again. It can also mean families have to fight to receive the right care at the right time, adding more stress during an already difficult time.  

That’s why, in 2013, we opened our Rainbow Clinic at St Mary’s Hospital in Manchester. Here we use a combination of specialist care and Continuity of Carer to support women who have had stillbirths through their following pregnancies.

Louise and her husband Ian were devastated when their first daughter Rosie was stillborn in 2019. With specialist care and support from Professor Heazell and our Manchester team, the couple welcomed baby Lottie in 2020.

"Every visit to Tommy’s Rainbow Clinic was my safe space, where I could say how I was really feeling and get the support I needed. 

Professor Heazell and the whole team at the Rainbow Clinic were incredible." 

Sands Chief Executive Clea Harmer said: 

“For any pregnant mother, having familiar faces caring for her can help develop a vital relationship of trust and this is particularly important for those who are pregnant following loss. When a single midwife or team of midwives cares for a woman and her family, there is more opportunity to hear and understand their individual needs and concerns.

Clea continues: 

“As services recover from COVID-19, the transition to a midwifery-led Continuity of Carer model must be properly resourced and supported, so every woman who is pregnant following a previous loss has the same team who are always there for them throughout their maternity experience. The latest additional annual funding of £95m for NHS maternity services is the perfect opportunity to make this happen.”

Kate Marsh, Midwifery Manager at Tommy’s said: 

“Being pregnant after loss can be incredibly scary for families, and this has been made more difficult by the current coronavirus pandemic. Continuity of Carer has not only been proven to improve safety during pregnancy and birth, but it also means families have a dedicated, familiar maternity team. This can give additional time and space to build close relationships, reducing anxiety and promoting positive birth experiences. It’s something we champion within Tommy’s own clinics and know our families value. We support Sands’ in calling for this to be the standard for families across the NHS – no matter who they are, or where they live.” 

You can find out more about Sands’ #AlwaysThere campaign on their website. For support with pregnancy after loss, our support group is open. 

[1] Source: The Better Births Four Years On report (NHS England, March 2020)
[2] Source: The contribution of continuity of midwifery care to high quality maternity care (Royal College of Midwives, 2017)