Posted on Wednesday 9 September 2020
Research nurse Leanna Brace launches the charity partnership with CRADLE's Dawn Brace
A charity which supports parents dealing with early pregnancy loss has launched in London at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust.
CRADLE offers services for bereaved families including comfort bags, outpatient support packs and peer support with a national network of volunteers.
Guy’s and St Thomas’ is the first Trust in London to work with the national charity which supports grandparents and siblings as well as parents.
Research nurse Leanna Brace set up the partnership with CRADLE at St Thomas’ Hospital after working with bereaved parents who said they felt alone, isolated and found it difficult to talk about their experiences with family, friends and colleagues.
Under the partnership, women who have lost a pregnancy in its early stages and are admitted to hospital receive a comfort bag for them and their partners. This includes donated essential items such as toiletries and notepads for them to write down questions or thoughts, as well as a “Dear friend” letter with details of how to access support from the charity.
CRADLE is one of a number of charities Guy’s and St Thomas’ works with in addition to its specialist team of bereavement midwives which support women and their families who lose a baby.
Serafina Salvador, 39, had a miscarriage in early 2018 after a series of scans at St Thomas’ Hospital couldn’t find a heartbeat for her baby.
Writer Serafina, from Clapham in South London, said: “It was my first pregnancy. I was quite shocked – I had not even considered the possibility of a miscarriage. I had no idea of what was to come or how this would play out. My realisation was more pronounced once I had had the miscarriage, because I realised so many women I knew had had one, but never talked about it.
“Pregnancy is not just a physical change in a woman’s body – it’s a psychological and hormonal change too. After a miscarriage, these changes affect women in different ways. Education about ways the family can heal from it are essential to the process.”
Serafina has since created a series of podcasts titled Let’s Just Talk About It, to support other women and to break down the social stigma around discussing early pregnancy loss.
She said: “It’s important for women to have people to talk to about this, who will honour their feelings. Families can heal in privacy rather than suffer in silence.”
Leanna Brace said: “At St Thomas’, we do everything we can to support parents when they have the devastating experience of losing a baby, but we are aware that more support and acknowledgement is needed for those experiencing early pregnancy loss.
“CRADLE is about being there at the scan, in the hospital room and following through to when parents go home. Its ambassadors and networks are important for families, giving them the opportunity to talk about their pregnancy and their grief around losing a baby in such a supportive way.”
CRADLE was founded by Louise Zeniou, who had an ectopic pregnancy in 2015. The charity has a national team of early pregnancy loss ambassadors, who all have personal experience of losing a baby. It operates in 40 trusts across the country, providing counselling while also training healthcare professionals to support bereavement care for early pregnancy loss.
Louise Zeniou said: “We are hugely passionate about supporting healthcare professionals who deliver bereavement care. Early pregnancy loss can be physically and emotionally painful, and we are here to support anyone affected by pregnancy loss or infertility. Thank you to Guy’s and St Thomas’ for launching CRADLE.”
A yellow rose donated by David Austin Roses was planted in the gardens in front of St Thomas’ Hospital to commemorate all lost early pregnancies. Thanks to The Friends of Guy’s and St Thomas’, Marriott Hotels, Lush, Savers, Neon Sheep and The Body Shop for their donations to the comfort bags.