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.
A recently published article, co-authored by Professor Catherine Williamson from Tommy’s Research Centre at King’s College London, suggests that certain pregnancy complications can indicate future health issues for women.
Tommy’s has received a grant from the UK Government’s Department for Health and Social Care to support the costs of its PregnancyHub information and support services throughout the summer, due to rising demand in the wake of coronavirus.
Although recruitment to some clinical trials had to be paused when coronavirus hit the UK, scientists at Tommy’s Research Centres across the UK are still hard at work, supporting women and families in our specialist clinics and sharing their latest studies with academic journals.
The day before Mother’s Day, and two days before the UK officially went into coronavirus lockdown, Zara Dawson found out she was having a miscarriage. Her third consecutive miscarriage in less than a year, and fourth consecutive loss, after losing her second son Jesse in 2018 to termination for medical reasons.