If you are reading this because you have experienced the loss of a baby, we would like to tell you how sorry we are for your loss. The loss of a baby at any stage of pregnancy is such a distressing experience, and we want to offer you the support you need.

Dorset Maternity Services have small teams of midwives who specialise in providing support and advice to those who have lost a baby, either during their pregnancy or after birth.

Miscarriage

This is the name given to the loss of a baby during the first 24 weeks of pregnancy. Miscarriages that happen before 13 weeks are known as early miscarriages, and those that happen between 13 and 23 weeks are known as late miscarriages. Experiencing the loss of a baby at any stage is devastating – it doesn’t matter how far along the pregnancy was.

Everyone copes with loss differently – there is no right or wrong way to cope with miscarriage. It is completely normal to grieve and need support to get through this difficult time, but some women and their partners may not feel that they need additional support. This is entirely your choice – your midwife will be there to support you and signpost you for any additional support you might need.

Unfortunately miscarriage is common, and thought to affect as many as 1 in 4 pregnancies. In most cases we don’t know exactly why a miscarriage happens, but it’s often due to chromosomal issues that mean the baby could never have developed properly. This means that it’s not your fault, and there’s nothing you could have done to prevent it. Most women who have a miscarriage can go on to have a healthy and normal pregnancy, but if you have experienced multiple losses, it’s a good idea to see your general practitioner (GP) to check whether there is an underlying problem.

  • Symptoms of miscarriage can include:
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Abdominal pain
  • Abnormal discharge
  • Loss of pregnancy symptoms

None of these symptoms mean that you’re having a miscarriage, but if you experience any of these symptoms, you should seek medical advice:

  • before 13 weeks of pregnancy: contact your GP or midwife
  • after 13 weeks of pregnancy: call Labour Line on 0300 3690388

If you bleed heavily, you must go to A&E without hesitation.

Miscarriage is usually diagnosed by an ultrasound scan, although you may need other tests. Sometimes you may need to stay in hospital overnight, but you can usually go home the same day.

Neonatal death

On some rare occasions a baby born alive may die in the first few hours, days or weeks of life. This may be because they are born extremely prematurely or have a known or newly diagnosed condition or illness and the baby is not expected to survive. Or this may be an unexpected death in the hospital or at home. Every situation is different. Babies who are born alive and die within the first 28 days of life are registered as a neonatal death.

The bereavement support midwives are here to support families during the first weeks and months of the baby passing away and can guide families to more long term support if needed.

Support and advice is also available from the following places:

Stillbirth

This is the term for the loss of a baby after 24 weeks of pregnancy, and can happen before or during birth. Stillbirth is often linked to a problem with the placenta, which then causes issues with a baby’s growth, development and oxygen supply. There are other causes, such as pre-eclampsia, maternal haemorrhage (heavy bleeding), gestational diabetes, and other complications such as cord prolapse.

Experiencing stillbirth is traumatic for parents and their families, so we have specially-trained midwives to help and support you. The bereavement or baby loss midwives will first make contact with bereaved families while you are in hospital. Both University Hospitals Dorset and Dorset County Hospital have secluded bereavement suites for women and their partners. Each suite has a special cooling cot for your baby, so your baby can remain with you during your stay in the Maternity Unit.

You will be given a pack which includes:

  • Contact numbers for bereavement midwives.

  • How to access specialist counselling.

  • Information on the book of remembrance held in Poole Hospital’s chapel.

  • Information and contact details for SPRING.

  • Practical information about financial support, preventing baby-related mail and so on.

The team will support you with memory making, such as taking hand and footprints, if you wish. They can also liaise with a medical photographer if this would be helpful for you.

Once women are discharged from hospital, you will still receive routine midwifery care. We arrange additional visits, depending on individual personal requirements, from your team midwife and a specialist bereavement midwife / baby loss midwife. Further support continues by phone, text or email, remaining personalised to your needs throughout.

Support

Everyone is different and has different needs. The amount of support and contact you need might vary over time, so we are here when the time feels right for you. There is further information about additional support below. All the groups listed are informal and provide a safe, caring environment to listen and be listened to during this very difficult time.

Dorset County Hospital

We are a dedicated and passionate team of Bereavement Midwives who provide care and support for families experiencing baby loss at any stage of pregnancy or shortly after birth.

To speak with one of our team please contact:

Sophie Wilson 07795318318

Claire Choak 07933333181

Alison Reynolds

Rachel McWilliams

Jacqueline Davies

While we aim to respond to your call or message at the earliest opportunity please be aware that our phones are not manned 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

You can also access us via email forgetmenot@dchft.nhs.uk

We have a private closed Facebook group ‘The Forget-me-not Group’– new members are always welcome, please search/follow link and ask to join. One of our team will invite you in, and closely monitor the group activity on a regular basis.

We hold a monthly support group’ The Forget-me-not Group’ and  meet on the 2nd Monday of every month between  7-9pm.  This is held at The Quiet Space, Poundbury, Dorchester. https://www.thequietspacedorchester.org/

The group is facilitated and run by peer supporters with regular input from the bereavement midwives who drop into the sessions or are available over the phone.

Dorset County Hospital has a chaplaincy service available to patients of our maternity unit:

Dorset County Hospital has a chaplaincy service available to patients of our maternity unit.  This service is available to people of all faiths and none.  We provide a confidential listening service to anyone who needs to talk.  There is also a hospital chapel which is usually available 24/7 as a space for quiet reflection.   The chaplain’s office number is 01305 255198 or ask a midwife to contact us on your behalf.

A chaplain will never:

  • Preach at, judge or criticise you.
  • Push religion at you
  • Tell your relatives, or anyone else, anything you don’t want them to know.
  • Visit for too long.

But a chaplain will:

  • Listen and be alongside you.
  • Help in your healing and recovery.
  • Act as an advocate if requested.
  • Hold what you tell them in the strictest confidence.
  • Offer prayers and other services if you wish.

We are working towards National Bereavement Care Pathway status and our trust is committed to continuous improvement in bereavement care for those affected by pregnancy or baby loss. We welcome any feedback, questions, or suggestions.

Please follow this link for further information www.nbcpathway.org.uk

We’re here for you for however long you need us, you don’t have to do this alone.

The bereavement midwives from both hospitals work together to support you. The service is available 7 days a week, 9am to 5pm. To contact us, please phone or text the bereavement midwives on 07768 526514 or 01202 263127. These are not emergency numbers, and messages will be returned at the next available opportunity.

SPRING (Supporting parents and relatives through baby loss) is a charity based at University Hospitals Dorset who offer support and advice to those who have experienced baby loss. You can refer yourself to them for counselling, whether your loss occurred during pregnancy or after birth. SPRING also holds support groups, coffee mornings and memorial events which you might find helpful. You can find full details on their website or call their support line on 0300 0198084.

University Hospitals Dorset also has a chaplaincy service available to patients at St. Mary’s Maternity Hospital in Poole. This service is open to people of all religions, but you do not need to be religious to use this service – they will provide a confidential and friendly ear if you need to talk. There is also a hospital chapel which is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week as a space for quiet reflection, and there are religious services twice a week. You can call the chaplain’s office on 0300 0192167 or ask a midwife to bleep them for you.

Useful links: