#15babiesaday initiative joins forces with Refuge


On Thursday 15th June Sands (Stillbirth and neonatal death charity) erected washing lines with 15 baby grows hanging from them, in iconic locations around the UK to provoke a discussion as to why 15 babies die before, during or shortly after birth every day in the UK.

Locations for these #15babiesaday displays included the Houses of Parliament, Tower Bridge, Tate Modern, the London Assembly and outside parliament buildings in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast.

The 750 baby grows which were displayed around the UK are now being donated to anti-domestic violence charity Refuge. This is to highlight the fact that domestic violence can be a cause of miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal death.

Almost one fifth (18.2%) of women who arrive at Refuge’s services are pregnant or have recently had a baby. This increases to 23% in Refuge accommodation.

On average, one baby dies every 90 minutes in the UK. While the number of deaths has fallen in recent years, this is no time to be complacent. We are moving three times slower than some other European countries to save lives. The rate of mortality also varies hugely from region to region, reflecting a map of poverty and health inequality. This postcode lottery is unacceptable.

Dr Clea Harmer, Chief Executive of Sands (Stillbirth and neonatal death charity), said:

“Our #15babiesaday initiative has provided an important opportunity to raise awareness of the fact that 15 babies die before, during and after birth every day in the UK.  The full extent of the tragedy of stillbirth and neonatal death is not widely known – leaving families feeling alone, isolated and unsure where to turn for help and support when their baby dies.  We want to change this, break the taboo, and increase our understanding of why these deaths occur.  The 15 baby grows on a washing line have been the focal point of this initiative and we are delighted to be able to send them to Refuge in the knowledge that they will help mothers and babies who have had to flee domestic violence.”

Sandra Horley, CBE, chief executive of Refuge, said: “One third of domestic violence either starts or gets worse when a woman becomes pregnant and more than a fifth of women who access Refuge’s services are pregnant.  Women who come to our refuges often flee their abusive partners in the middle of the night taking with them nothing more than the clothes they are wearing and have very little money with which to begin a new life.  We are very grateful to Sands for the donation of baby grows which we will distribute to women across our services.  Thank you so much for this much needed support.”

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) supported #15babiesaday. Commenting, RCM’s Director of Midwifery, Louise Silverton, said: “The RCM is supporting Sands with their latest campaign #15babiesaday as we believe that it is crucial to work together to reduce antenatal stillbirths and avoidable baby deaths.

“There are initiatives and training already being carried out across the UK to improve the rates of unavoidable baby deaths, but we need to ensure midwives have the time to do a thorough initial assessment of a woman, as well as ongoing risk assessments. This is where continuity of care and carer can play a crucial part and maternity services should also be reaching out to those women who are only engaging with maternity services late into their pregnancy.

“We also must ensure that there are enough bereavement midwives in place to ensure that parents and families get the support they need. Our hope is that all bereaved parents receive the same level of care and support regardless of where they live in the UK.”

For further information on #15babiesaday visit: www.sands.org.uk/get-involved/sands-awareness-month