Tommy’s is working to improve support in pregnancy after stillbirth or neonatal death

The IMPS study looks at women’s experiences of care in pregnancy following stillbirth and neonatal death.

Sonogram

The IMPS study being conducted at Tommy’s Stillbirth Research centre in Manchester looks at women’s experiences of care in future pregnancies following stillbirth and neonatal death. It aims to discover what extra support they would find helpful, when it should be conducted and by whom.

Suffering a stillbirth or losing your baby in the neonatal period of 28 days after birth is a devastating ordeal for parents.

The aftermath is a time when parents are extremely vulnerable and we are always disappointed to hear parents’ accounts of insensitive comments or poor aftercare from medical professionals.

Not only does this make the healing process more difficult, it can also contribute to anxiety in future pregnancies.

It is vital that we find the best way to make women less anxious for their next pregnancy as excessive stress can contribute to problems before and after birth.

It can also affect the long-term health of both mum and baby.

Tommy’s Stillbirth Research Centre in St Mary’s Hospital Manchester has done specific research into the experiences of women and their partners following a stillbirth or neonatal death. The aim of this study is to improve the support parents receive in pregnancy after previous losses.

The study (the IMPS study) is being led by a team of Tommy’s funded medical professionals including Dr Alexander Heazell, the Clinical Director of Tommy’s Stillbirth Research Centre.

Through interviewing pregnant/postnatal women, health professions and fathers, the study found that not all women are receiving the emotional and mental support they need in subsequent pregnancies.

Richard Boyd, blogger from Shoebox Full of Memories, has written about his experience of losing his twin boys to stillbirth and the attitudes he and his partner experienced.

'Much of the work on reducing stillbirth and neonatal death is primarily aimed at preventing death from occurring.  What it does not appear to specifically address is how to help parents if and when it does happen and how to help them handle the complex mix of emotions that comes with pregnancy after loss.'

Richard’s observation is reflected in many of the accounts we receive from women who were not offered adequate emotional and psychological support after the loss of their baby.

In some hospitals women who have previously had a stillbirth or neonatal death are offered extra appointments or tests in later pregnancies. These appointments are to give parents reassurance about the mother’s health as well as the wellbeing of their baby.

This is not universal, however, and aftercare in some hospitals and areas is entirely lacking.

The findings of this study show we to improve the education and training for staff and organisations to make sure bereaved couples are treated with sensitivity and given appropriate reassurance.

Read the full IMPS study here

Read about our stillbirth research being conducted in St Marys, Manchester.

Dr Alex Heazell took part in our 7 voices for 7 days project in honour of Baby Loss Awareness Week. Read his account of being Director of Tommy’s Stillbirth Research Centre here.

More research into stillbirth

  • The team at the Rainbow Clinic

    The Rainbow Clinic

    The Tommy's Rainbow Clinic is part of the Tommy's Stillbirth Research Centre at St Mary's Hospital in Manchester. It provides specialist care for women who have suffered a previous stillbirth or neonatal death.

  • Diagram of baby and placenta in womb

    The Placenta Clinic

    The Placenta Clinic, run as part of the Tommy's Stillbirth Research Centre at St Mary's Hospital in Manchester, is the largest placenta-focused research group in the world.

  • researcher looking through microscope

    Tommy’s Manchester Research Centre

    Tommy’s research centre at St Mary’s Hospital opened in 2001 and is now home to around 100 clinicians and scientists researching the causes of stillbirth.

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