Together for Short Lives
Call the Helpline 0808 8088 100

Growing number of parents suffering heart-breaking loss of a baby

News and comment

Baby Loss Awareness Week is a poignant reminder of the many parents whose lives have been changed forever by the loss of a baby. Their grief and pain often hidden behind closed doors, dreams and hopes for their child’s future cruelly taken away in a life-changing and life-altering moment.

Some parents will find out early that their baby may not survive long in this world, while others will struggle to come to terms with the unexpected and sudden death of their son or daughter. Both losses equally devastating and shocking.

And sadly, the number of parents facing this loss is growing.

11,000 devastated families

We now know from new research[1] that in England alone 11,500 under ones are likely to die before their first birthday each year, and this number is increasing. With a growing number of families facing baby loss, supporting families through their baby’s death is more important than ever.

Where can they go for support?

It’s so important that families facing this unimaginable loss know that there are many choices available to them. Although nobody can take away their pain, there is support available to help them through this heart-wrenching experience. The loss of a much-wanted baby is not just a loss of a life but a loss of hopes and dreams for the future. It is therefore vital that all professionals deliver sensitive and high-quality care to support both babies and their families during this period.

  • Have honest conversations with parents about their baby’s prognosis.
  • Put plans in place for the best possible end of life care alongside life-sustaining treatment.
  • Provide information about what support is available from Children’s Hospices and palliative care services in the community.
  • Enable the family to go home or to a Hospice with their baby and spend their last days or hours making precious memories in a home (or home from home) environment.
  • Have sensitive and expert bereavement support for as long as the family need it.

Together for Short Lives is here to ensure that all families can experience this excellent care. There is, afterall, only one chance to get this right for families.

Our Perinatal Pathway for Babies with Palliative Care Needs can be downloaded here.

If you are a professional supporting a family, please share our helpline number (0808 8088 100) with them or they can reach out to us via our online chat which they can access on our website homepage.

What has Together for Short Lives done to support these families?

We can never take away the pain of losing a baby, but we have worked to help staff in antenatal and neonatal units to plan ahead and prepare to have these difficult conversations with families.

Our Perinatal Pathway supports this work. It provides a step-by-step guide to support staff to enable families to have choice about where their baby dies and to make the most of their short, but incredibly precious life.

[1] Professor Lorna Fraser (2020). The prevalence of life-limiting and life-threatening conditions in children.

Leave a comment