During June 2017, as part of our 15 babies a day initiative, we will share 15 blogs by 15 people who have been affected by the death of a baby. By doing this we aim to show the sheer number of people who are affected by the tragedy of one baby’s death. Visit our 15 Perspectives webpage to view other blogs in the series.
My first experience of being involved with loss in the maternity field was as a first year student midwife. It was only a year ago and I remember everything. My lady was brought in with a suspected abruption at 37 weeks gestation. There was no foetal heartbeat. She was losing blood. I stood and watched feeling rather helpless.
Once her baby boy had been delivered, she had lost almost 2000ml of blood, myself and my mentor stayed with her for the rest of the shift. I looked after her as per guidelines. But I realised that I had no experience of how to cope with mum, baby and my own emotions. She asked if I could bring her baby to her. Of course I could, but I had never seen anybody dead before, let alone handle the most precious beloved baby. How did I pick up this baby? What would this baby feel like? Do I swaddle this baby? Will his delicate skin cope with being handled? I was surprised by how heavy he was. I was not at all surprised by the Mum’s emotions but once the shift was over I was surprised by my own emotions. It was 8am, the coordinator had arrived for the day and asked if I was okay. I couldn't speak. I opened my mouth and the words didn't come but the tears came.
I felt like I had been exposed to something I had little preparation for. It was unfair. Of course we will unfortunately encounter such situations throughout our careers as midwives and I don't believe it is something to be shielded from even as a first year student. However, it is something that midwives need to be made aware of and supported in at every hospital.
15 babies die before, during or shortly after birth every day in the UK. 15 too many. We want to reduce this number, but we need your help. Support our #15babiesaday initiative by donating or fundraising now.