Tommy's news, 08/10/2018
As part of Baby Loss Awareness Week, Amanda is setting up a fund via Tommy’s to provide special bereavement counsellors at all UK maternity units.
It will be known as Theo's Hope.
A message from Amanda Holden
In the UK one in every 225 pregnancies end in stillbirth – one of the highest rates in the developed world.
Stillbirth is also about ten times more common than cot death. It means more than 3,430 babies die every year, with half of the tragedies totally unexplained, as in Theo's case. That leaves parents agonising about what went wrong and if it could happen again, leading to depression and other mental health issues. But fewer than half of all UK maternity centres have specialist midwives trained to help bereaved parents.
We need to change that.
Without access to bereavement counsellors grieving women struggle to move on. Many will develop depression, putting extra pressure on our stretched NHS – so stopping that seems a fairly simple fix to me.
Initially we hope to fund one full- time counsellor at Tommy's Stillbirth Research Centre in Manchester. Then, hopefully, in the future it can be rolled out across the NHS.
There is never a 'cure' for the pain of losing a baby but you can be healed in a way that lets you get on with your life.
It was our pleasure to host Amanda recently at our Manchester Research Centre and Rainbow Clinic. Amanda joined us to find out more about the work Tommy’s does to understand the causes of stillbirth, and reducing the number of babies lost each year.
As a parent who has experienced the devastation of stillbirth first hand, and as someone who trained for a period as a midwife, Amanda was particularly interested in learning more about our current research projects, and also to meet families who had gone through the experience themselves.
She visited our labs, looked at placenta segments under microscopes, and spent a long time talking to the Tommy‘s team about the progress we are making.
But it was with the five families who had all had treatment at the Rainbow Clinic that she spent a good part of her visit. She spoke to each family individually and really took time to learn of their experiences.
We cannot thank Amanda enough for taking time out of her busy schedule to come visit our centre.
Tommy's work on stillbirth
Tommy’s is the largest UK charity funding research to prevent stillbirth. We carry out vital research to find out why stillbirths happen, and how we can prevent them. Rates of stillbirth are falling – but not fast enough. Our research is helping us understand the causes of stillbirth, so we can find the babies at risk in time to help them.
Our research aims to reduce stillbirth rates by finding the missing links between stillbirth, the placenta, and the baby’s growth. Most of our stillbirth research takes place in our Manchester Research Centre , where we have made great progress in our Rainbow and Placenta Clinics . Research focuses on three main areas:
- Understanding the causes
- Treatment and prevention
- Improving care for women at risk of, and following, a stillbirth
We are already making strides towards our goals.
- In St. Mary’s Hospital, we lowered the average number of stillbirths by 19% from 2012 to 2017. This is equivalent to 12 fewer babies dying every year.
- In Edinburgh, obese women attending our antenatal clinic were 8 times less likely to have a stillbirth than women receiving standard care.
- We have developed a new way of looking at the placenta using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). This will help doctors tell which women have healthy pregnancies and which babies may be struggling.
Support after a stillbirth
Stillbirth is one of the most devastating experiences any family can go through. We are here to support families who are going through this very difficult time. We have worked with women who have experienced stillbirth, their families and professionals who have supported them to develop supportive information below to help parents who have suffered a stillbirth.
See here for more stillbirth information and support.
Join the conversation this Baby Loss Awareness Week.
Around 1 in 4 pregnancies in the UK will end in loss. Education and family support specialist, Margaret Pritchard Houston, shares her experiences of baby loss, milk donation, and why mothers should always be given all the options.
When I reached 9 weeks I started to have a feeling that something wasn't right, my symptoms had slowly started fading.
"After all, the pain of pushing your body through a run is nothing in comparison to losing a child but it is my personal outlet and way to honour my son’s memory."
When it comes down to it, I would never have got anywhere near completing my challenge had it not been for Tommy's, the amazing cause and those they have touched.
Miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy may trigger long-term post-traumatic stress, anxiety and depression
The largest ever study into the psychological impact of miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy has shown that early-stage pregnancy loss can have a serious on impact mental health. The research was led by Professor Tom Bourne at the Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research at Imperial College London.
A pilot trial led by Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research suggests diabetes drug could be repurposed to target the lining of the womb in women with recurrent miscarriage.
More than a third of maternity doctors admitted they suffer from burnout and exhaustion. This means that they may avoid difficult cases, over-prescribe medications and care less about their patients, increasing the risk of mistakes.
Abdominal stitch is more effective than vaginal stitch for women who experience recurrent preterm births
A clinical trial has shown that an abdominal stitch can save babies’ lives by reducing preterm birth for high-risk women who have had a previous failed vaginal stitch. The trial was led and co-authored by Professor Andrew Shennan, Clinical Director of Tommy’s Preterm Surveillance Clinic.