I founded Baby Lifeline 37 years ago after tragically losing my first 3 babies Lisa, Emma, and Stuart consecutively, after they were all born prematurely.
When I lost my first baby girl, Lisa, it came as a great shock to me as I was fit and healthy and there was absolutely no warning of any problem. Over 80% of stillbirths happen to women who have no risk factors; therefore, more work needs to be done to give us more answers, and to be able to provide preventative measures.
Losing Lisa was made even more traumatic by the communication to me at the time. I was not allowed to see Lisa, who had just died during birth, and I was told she was “normal but small”. She was then incinerated, and I was sent home to cope on my own. All of my antenatal scans were destroyed, and all traces of my daughter were removed. I felt very isolated, and still feel the effects today.
I was then pregnant again with my second daughter, Emma. I went into premature labour just before 26 weeks into the pregnancy, and sadly watched her die with respiratory failure at one day old. Finally, Stuart was born after a placental abruption a day before 28 weeks and died prematurely with a brain haemorrhage. It was more than I could bear.
Thanks to the dedicated care of health professionals I have now had three babies, after complicated pregnancies and births.
The Charity Was My Lifeline
The charity started with me buying an incubator for my local hospital as a way of thanking the staff and forming a distraction from my grief. I was then approached by the late Professor Richard Johanson, who wanted to produce training based on the key learning points from the Fourth Annual CESDI Report confidential enquiry into stillbirths and neonatal deaths. This was the start of the charity’s journey into providing high-quality training courses in areas identified to contribute to avoidable deaths and injuries for both mum and baby.
I am proud to say that the charity has trained over 21,000 healthcare professionals to date, with 6,000 of those being trained over the last 12 months. We have also provided millions of pounds of maternity and neonatal technology to hospitals, and carried out high-impact research.
A Lifeline for Other Families
The importance of having the right training is paramount to ensure that the clinicians are supported in delivering the best care possible, by giving them the tools to do so. No child or mum should suffer due to having the wrong or defective equipment, and no clinician should be expected to practice in something they are not competent in. Equally, if something does go wrong, no health professional should feel that they do not know how to provide appropriate support to a family.
Baby Lifeline is proud to be part of the Baby Loss Alliance that is working to address the lack of standardisation in bereavement care nationally. Every day in the UK, 15 babies are stillborn or die within 28 days of being born – which translates to 15 families embarking on one of the hardest journeys imaginable. We should equip health professionals to provide the best care possible to support these families.