University lights up medical building in support of Baby Loss Awareness Week

As part of the national campaign to highlight the importance of Baby Loss Awareness Week, the University of Leicester’s George Davies Centre, home to many of Leicester’s world-changing health researchers and teaching spaces, will join other national UK landmarks in being lit up pink and blue.  

Saturday 9 October marked the start of seven days of raising awareness of the issues around pregnancy and baby loss in the UK. Baby Loss Awareness Week, taking place from 9 to 15 October, is an opportunity for bereaved parents, their families and friends, to commemorate the lives of babies who died during pregnancy, at or soon after birth and in infancy. By lighting up the George Davies Centre, the University shows its support for this important cause. 

Our student midwives see first-hand the devastating impact that losses in pregnancy and neonatal death has on a family. Celia Kelly is a third-year midwifery student and led the campaign on behalf of the University’s Midwifery Society to light up the George Davies Centre. She explained it was so important for the University to show its support for this campaign.

She said: “At some point in their lives, one in four women will experience loss, which means that many of our students, their friends or families, will go or have been through this ordeal. The University is in the perfect position to be able to help us raise awareness and show people that support is readily available if they need it. 

“Too many women still face grief alone, unable to tell people what has happened to them, and all too often this pain is glossed over if she becomes pregnant again. But the grief of losing a child is something that never leaves a family. Nationally, we need to make the general population more aware of this to break the stigma and taboo around the issue. 

“As student midwives, we hope to be able to provide support to the women, birthing people and their families who face losses. In the future, we need to foster a culture that is more accepting of the grief that can follow families around, and hopefully create more organisations where people feel able to share their feelings and experiences.  

“All the students I work with are committed to providing the best care to all the families they come across and will dedicate themselves to providing a high standard of compassionate care to anyone who is affected by baby loss.” 

At the University of Leicester, issues related to baby loss are a key research area. The College of Life Sciences is home to The Infant Mortality and Morbidity Studies (TIMMS) research group, a collaborative, multi-disciplinary group of researchers undertaking international and national research to investigate the causes, consequences, and management of morbidity and mortality of the fetus, infant, and child related to pregnancy, delivery, infancy and childhood. 

Professor Elizabeth Draper, Research Group Lead for TIMMS, said:  “Every year, MBRRACE-UK, a collaborative programme of work run by the TIMMS research group, collects and analyses the numbers and rates of baby deaths in the UK. We then produce a Perinatal Mortality Surveillance report that summarises the rates of stillbirth and neonatal deaths for all UK nations and organisations planning and delivering maternity and neonatal care in the UK.  

“This crucial information is used by people commissioning and delivering healthcare to develop different strategies to avoid preventable deaths. These strategies will vary depending on how and when the baby died, and what factors, such as poverty, ethnicity and the age of the mother, influence a baby’s risk of dying. 

“We also carry out confidential enquiries into groups of baby deaths, which investigate the quality of care provided to these mums and babies. 

“Baby Loss Awareness week raises the profile of this sensitive issue to the general public and policy makers identifying areas for future research and intervention.”