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Commemorating Baby Loss Awareness Week

Paula Gallacher, Bereavement Specialist Midwife, and Laura Payne, Bereavement Midwife

Trees of remembrance for bereaved families to display commemorative messages have been put up in areas at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust as part of Baby Loss Awareness Week 2020 (BLAW, 9-15 October).

The annual awareness week, now in its 18th year, is an opportunity for bereaved parents, families, and friends to commemorate babies' lives, and to raise awareness about pregnancy and baby loss.

Remembrance trees offer bereaved parents the opportunity to honour their baby in a simple, quiet way, and will effectively 'grow' as leaves are added.

Trees are located on the Gynaecology Ward, Neonatal Unit, and Level 7 of the Women’s Centre at the John Radcliffe Hospital, as well as at the Early Pregnancy Assessment Unit (EPAU) in Rose Hill.

Paula Gallacher, Bereavement Specialist Midwife at the Trust, said: "Baby Loss Awareness Week is a chance for those affected by baby loss and their families and friends to unite and speak with others to commemorate these lost lives.

"It is also an opportunity to raise awareness about the issues surrounding baby loss and what charities and other organisations are doing to provide support.

"The remembrance trees enable women and their families to express a private and public declaration in memory of their babies. It is a beautiful symbol of remembrance and sometimes shared actions, such as placing a leaf on the tree, can say more and be more meaningful than words."

Unfortunately, due to the current COVID-19 restrictions, we are unable to invite people to add their message to the trees this year. If you would like a member of the team to do this on your behalf, please email and this will be done for you.

Jan Radford, a Team Chaplain at the Trust, has recorded a blessing which can be watched on YouTube.

As part of a global Wave of Light event, people are encouraged to light a candle at 7pm on Thursday 15 October and leave it burning for at least 1 hour to join us in remembering all babies who have died too soon. This is an opportunity to join other families across the world to pause, reflect and remember. People can get involved by taking a photo of candles and posting on Facebook or Twitter using #WaveOfLight.

Many buildings and landmarks around the country are lit up pink and blue during BLAW. This year, there will be a small light up at the Rose Hill community centre in Oxford.

There will also be a Facebook Live session through the Maternity Voices Partnership, which will involve a presentation and Q&A session with OUH staff for people to discuss baby loss and the support available to those who need it. This will take place at 2pm on Friday 9 October.

Paula Gallacher added: "We support our families as best we can and we hope that these events will spark conversations about baby loss, and give local bereaved parents and families an opportunity to talk about their precious babies."

Clea Harmer, Chief Executive of stillbirth and neonatal death charity Sands, said: "Pregnancy loss or the death of a baby is a tragedy that affects thousands of people every year. It is devastating for parents and families, and it’s vital they get the bereavement support and care they need, for as long as they need it."