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Chaplains support bereaved parents
06/06/19

In the UK one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage and nine babies are stillborn every day. These statistics underline how common baby loss is, however the subject is rarely discussed and bereaved parents often grieve in silence. The chaplaincy team at University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire, together with Bereavement midwives, work together to offer help and support for those who have suffered the loss of a baby.

The chaplaincy team support parents in a number of ways. Firstly, chaplains will offer support whilst parents are in hospital by helping parents organise the funeral for their baby and frequently these funerals are taken by chaplains. There are also a number of support groups for parents to attend. One of these groups is for parents who suffered a loss very early on in pregnancy. These parents often do not get access to as much support as parents who suffer loss later on. Many parents have found the monthly sessions to be very beneficial and they have proved popular.

Two other groups focus on hope and new life after losing a baby. The ‘Hope Group’ is for women who are pregnant again after suffering a loss. Going through pregnancy again can be a very scary and anxious time for women who have previously lost a baby and this group, run in conjunction with bereavement midwifes, helps women with these anxieties. Another group is called ‘Parents after Loss’ and is for parents who have gone on to have a new baby after losing a baby previously. Although welcoming a new baby into the family is a happy and joyous time, the sense of grief for the child they lost is often heightened as there can be a feeling that a member of the family is missing.

Every year the chaplaincy hosts a baby memorial service in February. This year it was held on the 24th February and over fifty people attended. Some were families who come most years and others were there for the first time. The service had a theme of footprints and one of the activities invited families to write messages on footprints that were then displayed on a board. Bereavement midwifes and other nursing staff attended the service to support families.

The Revd Liz Jones oversees the baby loss support services. She says,

“It is a real privilege to be alongside families at a time of great difficulty and distress. We are constantly learning from the families which we support and appreciate that offering them a safe space with support is helpful to them on their journeys of grief.  We recently received feedback from a parent who said how helpful she found the emotional and practical support we had given to her in one of the support groups.”

For more information about the UHCW chaplaincy see -https://www.uhcw.nhs.uk/caring-for-you/spiritual-care/

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