Start: September 2017
Stillbirth rates in the UK remain unacceptably high. We want to understand more about why pregnancy sometimes goes wrong so that we can help keep babies safe in the future.
Pregnancy complications such as pre-eclampsia, intrauterine growth restriction, diabetes and premature birth can be linked to stillbirth or death soon after birth. There are several possible underlying causes for each individual complication, and they may also be related.
We therefore want to build up a better picture of the causes of these interrelated complications.
To help with this, we have been taking tissue samples from women with either normal or complicated pregnancies, and also collecting information about their pregnancies.
Women were approached early in pregnancy, meaning that we could get a large amount of antenatal data. So far, we have recruited over 2,000 women from St Mary’s Hospital, Manchester – 90% consented to donating their placenta and other samples after giving birth to their baby, and we have used over 1,000 placental samples in our research studies over the past two years.
We have also started collecting information from women giving birth at The University Hospital of South Manchester in Wythenshawe.
The terrible effect of stillbirth
Stillbirth is devastating for families. We have been gathering testimony about the terrible effect of stillbirth on parents and wider family to raise awareness and make the case that more must be done to bring down the statistics.
'We sat on the bed laughing and joking, pushing the worry away. The midwife seemed to be away for ages. When she returned we were taken to a scan room to be scanned. As we walked in the room I knew something wasn’t right as there were three people in the room already. I nervously lay on the bed and after a few minutes the doctor turned to me and said, ‘I’m sorry but there’s no heartbeat.’
'Those words still make me feel sick to my stomach. I just remember screaming and screaming. I looked to David who sat with his head in his hands. I eventually managed to stop screaming and sat and cried uncontrollably. How could this have happened?'
Join the fight against baby loss
Tommy's funds research across the UK investigating the reasons for miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth. We can keep you updated on ways you can support our work. If you would like to join our fight against baby loss and premature birth, click here.
In addition to our core work on miscarriage, stillbirth, preterm birth and pre-eclampsia, Tommy’s also funds projects that research the effects of lifestyle and well-being on pregnancy and on the later life of the child.
When a baby dies after 24 weeks of gestation, it is called a stillbirth. Around 2.6 million babies are stillborn each year. Tommy’s research is helping to change this.
Around 60,000 babies are born prematurely each year in the UK. These babies are vulnerable – they are born before they have grown to cope with the outside world. Tommy’s is saving lives by researching how we can prevent premature births by finding those at risk early on.
1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage.1 in 100 women have 3 or more miscarriages in a row. Research into this area of pregnancy loss has been underfunded for years.
"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."
The midwife said: 'Maybe he is turned in a funny position', but we waited and still she couldn’t find the heartbeat.
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.
Looking back now I realise that my experiences have taught me some valuable lessons. That strength does not have to mean silence; being brave can involve tears and that these babies are chapters of my story.