It’s currently estimated that around 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. Whilst that figure may seem distressingly high, it actually only takes into account the losses which are reported. Many women, who miscarry early into their pregnancy, will do so at home, alone, and often with limited medical guidance or follow up appointments.
My first pregnancy, devastatingly, ended in an early miscarriage. After a long battle with infertility and multiple cycles of ICSI, we’d finally had our positive on a pregnancy test, needless to say we were living in a state of elation. Minutes after making a joyous, much dreamed of, appointment for our seven-week viability scan, I was back on the phone to the clinic asking for advice following a bleed. It had taken us almost four years to conceive and yet only a matter of hours for the hope, possibility and promise, of new life, to leave my body.
And my heart was crushed.
I then suffered an ectopic pregnancy at the same time I was pregnant with my son. The odds of what happened to me sit around the 1 in 40,000 mark, however, ectopic pregnancy itself isn’t uncommon and around 11,000 or 1 in 80 pregnancies, each year, will grievously end that way. Ectopic pregnancies can also be life-threatening for the mother and, at times result in emergency surgery. It is frightening, it is alarming, and it is heart-breaking.
In both cases I was offered no counselling, no support and was left feeling abandoned, guilty and overwhelmingly scared.
I’ve recently connected with the wonderful Louise Zeniou who, following her own ectopic pregnancy in 2015, has created and recently launched Cradle; a charitable, non-profit, organisation, which provides support to parents during, and following, any early pregnancy loss, as well as supporting healthcare professionals in the delivery of continuity of bereavement care, across the UK.
Louise firmly believes that every pregnancy matters, knowing that whether a pregnancy has lasted for days, weeks or months; it means something to the parents. Through Cradle she wants others to know that they are not alone and that someone does understand:
“We understand the potential fear, physical pain, shock and confusion you may have experienced. Everything you feel, or perhaps don’t feel, right at this moment is completely normal. We’ve been where you are, you’re not alone.”
Cradle is run by a team of national early pregnancy loss ambassadors, who have all suffered their own losses, and now work to support others by partnering with their chosen NHS Gynae Wards, EPAUs (Early Pregnancy Assessment Units), A&E, and any other department responsible for the care of parents experiencing early loss.
Cradle is there to help, and regularly run support groups, contribute to NHS training days, as well as working with other charities in the baby loss community. This week, Cradle will be hosting the Legacy of Leo’s #babylosshour, on Twitter, on Tuesday 30th July at 8pm, with the hope of bringing people together to unite in their loss, and comfort each other through their grief.
Cradle are also fundraising to donate comfort bags to women, and their partners, who are undergoing hospital care either at the time of, or following, baby loss. The bags are filled with a mixture of practical necessities, like toothbrushes and toiletries, alongside beautiful keepsakes including sunflower seeds and a candle. Patients will also find a letter from Louise, offering immediate acknowledgement of the loss and the range of unknown feelings often experienced, as well as highlighting the online resources Cradle provides, in terms of support groups, and direct contact details.
“We know that soaps and sunflower seeds won’t take away the pain of losing a baby, but want to let bereaved parents know we’re thinking about them and are here for them, if and when they ever need us.”
Despite only launching earlier this month, Cradle has already been nominated for The Butterfly Awards, becoming an Advocate Awareness finalist. The awards are in place to honour survivors and celebrate the invaluable work of those supporting them. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again; it’s only when we stand united, speaking out together, that silences will be broken.
I’m sure you’ll all join me in wishing Louise and her beautiful team of ambassadors well on the night and also in fundraising too. As you can imagine, the work Cradle do is extremely close to my heart, and truly does provide such worthwhile and compassionate care to those who all too easily become forgotten, in a desperate time of need.
If anyone has, tragically, suffered from pregnancy loss and is looking for support, please do reach out to Cradle. You can find Cradle’s Facebook peer support group at facebook.com/cradleEPL follow them on Twitter @cradle_EPL and Instagram too instagram.com/cradle_epl
Whilst losing a baby early on can feel overwhelming, confusing and is a traumatic experience, please remember you are not alone, and support is available.
How you can help…
Knitting: Cradle has a lovely team of knitting ambassadors who are working together to make white angels to sell to raise funds. If you’re interested in knitting for Cradle, please email: email@example.com
Become a local ambassador: If you have experienced early pregnancy loss and would like to support others during their pain, then please contact Louise:
Cradle also run early loss football teams, for dads to meet and support each other. If you’re interested in joining or setting up a local team, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Cradle would like to thank their retail partners: Morrisons, Dobbies, Lush and GoJute.
Cradle is a supporter of the guidelines of the national bereavement care pathway.