Peterborough mums breaking ‘the taboo and silence’ surrounding stillbirth for Sands Awareness month

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A Peterborough support group is looking to “break the taboo and silence surrounding stillbirth” as June marks the start of Sands Awareness month.

Sands, the Stillbirth and Neonatal death charity, was founded in 1978 by a small number of bereaved parents devastated by the death of their baby and by the total lack of acknowledgement and understanding of their loss. Since then, Sands has played a key role in raising awareness of baby death across the UK, supported thousands of parents whose babies have died and worked closely with Health Care Professionals to improve the care bereaved parents receive.

Peterborough mum Amy Eagling said: “I first became aware of Sands following the loss of our son Charlie in 2012. Before Charlie, the word ‘stillbirth’ wasn’t something I really knew too much about. It was something I thought happened years ago.

“But sadly that’s not the case, 15 babies are stillborn or die shortly after birth every single day in the UK. I had no idea back then, but why would I?

“I’d had an easy carefree pregnancy with my first son and was happily sailing through my second. So when I noticed Charlie hadn’t moved much one day, I called my midwife who suggested I pop along to hospital to be checked over. It was then that I learnt the devastating news, Charlie had died. A few days later I gave birth to him, he was perfect, but our world fell apart.

“The weeks and months that followed are a bit of a blur. Eventually after many weeks of hiding away I contacted Sands, online at first and then by phone, finally plucking up the courage to attend a support group.

“But I didn’t need courage, the support group was a safe place I was able to talk about Charlie and what had happened, I was able to talk, to cry, to listen and just be with others who understood exactly what I was going through. Sands support groups are there to offer support to anyone affected by the death of a baby.”

Peterborough and Stamford Sands are one of a network of over 100 support groups across the UK.

Sands also aims to break the taboo and silence surrounding stillbirth. This not only helps those parents affected by the death of their baby to feel less isolated, but can contribute to the reduction in the number of babies dying through making expectant parents aware of the dangers.

Run by volunteers, the groups aim to offer support and raise awareness. The group works closely with Peterborough City Hospital to improve bereavement care, and fundraises to allow all of this to happen.

Sally Boylan and Lucy MacRae, both bereaved parents, launched the Peterborough and Stamford group 18 months ago, wanting to help others who had been through what they had.

Sally said: “We understand the shock, devastation, sadness, isolation and guilt that can follow after a baby dies and are able to offer support via our support group”.

She added, “Whether a baby was miscarried, stillborn, or died after birth and whether it happened very recently or a long time ago, we are able to offer support and information”.

The group meets monthly in the Asda Community room at the Rivergate Shopping Centre. The meetings are informal so you can just turn up, they run from 7pm-9pm.

The next meeting is due to take place on Thursday June 15, and then on Thursday July 6.

For more information, please visit www.sandspeterborough.co.uk or you can find us on facebook ‘Peterborough & Stamford Sands’ or on twitter @Sandspetandstam