Stillbirth isn’t Hereditary According to Scientists

Following a study of 26,000 mothers and daughters, no link was found between a mothers’ history of stillbirth and their daughters. Previous evidence had suggested that placental insufficiency was hereditary.

Personally, its very reassuring to read that stillbirth isn’t hereditary. I very occassionally think about what i’d do if my own daughters went on to suffer the heartbreak that I had to endure. It’s comforting to read that a genetic link has not been found to be a cause of stillbirth. I’m hoping that this will keep any anxiety at bay.

The University of Aberdeen ran the research project which was conducted in Scotland. No link was established between a mothers’ history of stillbirth and stillbirth in their daughters.

It’s so good to read about this study, to know that money is being given to Universities for research into stillbirth and neonatal death. It’s very hard for anybody wanting to carry out research into stillbirth or neonatal death to get the project off the ground due to a lack of available funding.

More studies please! The more research that is carried out, the more we can better understand stillbirth and neonatal death and the better positioned we will be to lower or stillbirth and neonatal death rate.

If you or a loved one would like to discuss a stillbirth compensation claim or neonatal death compensation claim, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Welsh Hospital in Special Measures Following Review – Increase in Stillbirth and Neonatal Death

An independent review of Cwm Taf maternity services describes it as “under extreme pressure and “dysfunctional”.

Special measures have been put in place prompted by concerns over the death of babies. There were 25 reported serious incidents including eight stillbirths and five neonatal deaths between January 2016 and September 2018.

According to the BBC website, the independent review found that the suspicions and concerns raised by women were not taken seriously whilst there was “little evidence of effective clinical leadership at any level”.

“Many women had felt something was wrong with their baby or tried to convey the level of pain they were experiencing but they were ignored or patronised, and no action was taken, with tragic outcomes including stillbirth and neonatal death of their babies,” the report said.

The BBC reported that further cases should be looked at – going back to 2010 – to “determine the extent of the under-reporting” of issues and to provide assurance to the health board. The review found 11 areas of immediate concern at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital in Llantrisant and Prince Charles in Merthyr Tydfil, including:

  • Often no consultant obstetrician on the labour ward, and difficult to contact
  • Not enough midwives, putting them under “extreme pressure”
  • Consultants were not always available out of hours – and would take 45 minutes to get in
  • “Fragmented” consultant cover while their roster arrangements were “complex and inflexible”
  • High numbers of locum staff at all levels
  • Staff not aware of guidelines, protocols, triggers and escalations
  • “Punitive culture” within the service and staff felt senior management did not listen to their concerns, which they had “voiced repeatedly over a long period of time”

The reference to the lack of Consultant care was something I discussed earlier today in my previous blog:

There had also been 67 stillbirths going back to 2010 which had not been reported for inclusion in statistics for a national database.

It’s very saddening to read this review but equally, reassuring that safeguards are in place to ensure that concerns are investigated (even if it takes time to get to this point).

What happens going forward for now remains to be seen. I hope the families get the answers to questions they want to know and that going forward, the number of stillborn and neonatal death babies reduces and care to women being of the standard that one would expect in a first world country in the 21st century.

If you or a loved one would like to discuss a stillbirth compensation claim or neonatal death compensation claim, please do not hesitate to contact us.

My Appearance in Women’s Health Magazine – My Experience of Stillbirth

I was honoured and privileged to have been asked by Nikki Osman, a journalist at Women’s Health to feature in an article she was writing about stillbirth and its effect on women.

It’s always difficult to recount the stillbirth of Arella but it’s equally cathartic, to honour her memory and ensure that her little life wasn’t lost in vein.

I have copied the information relating to me below but the full article can be found here:

Before I experienced stillbirth: I’ve always thought of myself as an empathetic person. As a medical negligence solicitor, I dealt with some tragic cases, including stillbirth claims. I’d listened as women told me their stories, I’d cried tears for their babies and I’d read psychiatric reports that laid bare the trauma of losing your child.

I thought I had some grasp of how painful that could be. One of the first things I thought, lying in a hospital bed a week before my due date, hearing that my baby had died, was, ‘Oh, I’m one of those women now.’ It turns out you can never know that pain until you’ve lived it. 

We chose not to find out if we were having a boy or a girl – it didn’t matter to us, we just wanted a healthy baby. I spent a few months feeling nervous, but at the 20-week scan, we were told our baby was healthy and I began to relax.

We’d just moved into our new house and my due date was three months before my 30th birthday. We bought a pram, got the nursery ready, and on a Friday in June, I started my maternity leave.

What happened: The following Thursday – a week before my due date – I had a routine hospital appointment. My mum came with me, and she was at my side when the midwife said she couldn’t find a heartbeat.

I looked at my mum, she looked back at me, and I knew. I called my husband Jonathan and told him to come to the hospital. He told me later he left everything on his desk and ran out the door. He didn’t even close his computer.

People say they’ve had the worst birth ever because the epidural failed or the labour went on for hours. I had to give birth to a child I would never know, on a ward filled with the sound of babies crying. We tried to drown them out with music, but it didn’t work, and it was torture.

She was a she, and she was born around 10pm. We named her Arella. They asked me if I wanted to hold her, but I said no. I didn’t want to know what it was like to hold a dead baby.

I regret that now, but you make the best decision you can at the time. Shortly after, I started to haemorrhage. There were times in the months that followed when I wished I’d bled to death in that hospital bed.

My life after stillbirth: My world became a dark place. I’d get out of bed each morning, but I was going through the motions. My best friends were pregnant, so were both my sisters-in-law, and I couldn’t bear to see them – or anyone else. Jonathan went back to work after a week, but he was hurting.

Men aren’t affected physically, so they’re just expected to get on with it. But he’d lost a child, too, and on top of that he had to watch his wife fall apart.

My very best friends were amazing, because I gave them the tools to be amazing. I’d send emails saying what I needed and what I didn’t. I didn’t want to hear well-meaning platitudes that I’d have another child, that this wasn’t meant to be or that someone understood what I was going through because they’d had a miscarriage.

It’s misconceptions like these that make the grief so much harder to bear. You’re not just grieving for the baby you didn’t bring home. You’re grieving the child, teenager, person they will never grow up to be; you’re grieving the memory of giving birth to death.

What I wanted to hear after stillbirth: What saved me, I think, was Jane, a bereavement midwife specialising in grief who was assigned to me by the hospital. From the first day she arrived in my life, she changed it for the better.

She got me at a time when I felt like no one got me. She understood that my desire to become a mother hadn’t died with my daughter, and she instilled faith in me that I would go on to have more children without diminishing Arella’s memory.

Some days, she helped me to normalise my feelings of anger at the world and envy towards other mothers; others she just held my hand while I cried.

I love her for giving me faith in the future at the time when I needed it most, because she was right. I went on to have three healthy children – children Jane delivered – and they are the most precious things in my life.

My life now: Since going back to work, I’ve specialised in medical negligence in stillbirth, which means it’s my job to make sure that if the NHS trust involved is at fault for a baby’s death, it is held to account. I can’t imagine what it’s like to lose a baby because of someone’s negligence, but I know how to word the letters and what it means when someone uses your child’s name.

My life is so busy now for the best reasons. I don’t dwell on the pain of what I went through, but it doesn’t go away either.

I’ve got another child who’s not with me, and I feel it. I don’t go down the road of ‘what if’, I don’t sign her name on birthday cards, and if a stranger asks how many children I have, I don’t say four. It’s too sad, too uncomfortable. But I do have four children, and only three are at home with me.

If you or a loved one would like to discuss a stillbirth compensation claim or neonatal death compensation claim, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Stillbirth Rate Could be Reduced if Better Care was Given to Twins and Triplets

A research project funded by the Department of Health has revealed that women pregnant with twins and triplets are not all receiving the care that they should be afforded.

Apparently, this poor care is resulting in 100 stillbirths a year. This is shocking to read!

Experts have also found that a failure to adhere to the national guidelines is also leading (in addition to stillbirths) to 630 unnecessary C-Sections and 1,300 infant admissions to Neo-Natal intensive care each year.

It’s logical to read that those maternity units who followed the national NHS guidelines had improved outcomes for twins and triplets and for their mothers.

What is the recommended guidance for women carrying multiple babies? In 2013, the NICE guidelines recommended the following: 1) extra scans. 2) Being cared for by health professionals who specialise in multiple births. 3) Drawing up a detailed care plan. 4) Having a detailed strategy with how to deal with a premature birth.

The Twins and Multiple Births Association (TAMBA) used the term “pot luck” to describe what level of care an expectant mother would receive. It really is saddening to read that some hospitals don’t even follow the NICE guidelines. The NHS just shouldn’t offer a postcode lottery service. There should be standardisation throughout with every woman receiving the same level of care. Multiple births are known to be high risk in nature. Therefore, to not put the suggested measures in place really is appalling.

TAMBA concluded that if all maternity units adhered to the NICE guidelines, our stillbirth rate would drop 70 per cent for multiple birth pregnancies. This would save 100 babies lives a year. It would also save the NHS £8 million an year. If there’s truth to the cliche that money talks, you’d think that this would be a wake up call for the NHS.

If you or a loved one would like to discuss a stillbirth compensation claim or neonatal death compensation claim, please do not hesitate to contact us.

New Powers to Investigate Stillbirth

As things currently stand, Coroners only have the power to investigate the death of a baby who were born breathing. This therefore prevents parents of stillborn babies who appear healthy from being able to investigate the death of their babies through the Coroner’s Court.

This may all change under new Government legislation which would enable Coroners to investigate stillbirths. It is the intended benefit that widening the Coroner’s powers to include investigating stillbirths would help prevent future stillbirths and improve maternal care.

On 26 March 2019, the Government launched a consultation on proposals to give coroners the power to investigate all full-term stillbirths . The impact of this would be massive. Not only would it provide parents with vital information on what went wrong and why, it would also ensure that any mistakes are identified to prevent future deaths.

We don’t know enough about why babies die. According to the SANDS website, 6 out of 10 stillbirths are unexplained. If we don’t know why babies die, we aren’t going to reduce our shocking statistics. Widening the Coroner’s powers would lead to more transparency for bereaved parents who are left desperately seeking answers as to why their seemingly healthy babies are stillborn.

According to the Government website, under the proposed system:

  • Coroners will have powers to investigate all full-term stillbirths occurring from 37 weeks pregnancy
  • The coroner will consider whether any lessons can be learned which could prevent future stillbirths
  • Coroners will not have to gain consent or permission from any third party in exercising this power
  • Coronial investigations will not replace current investigations undertaken by the hospital or NHS agencies

These measures are an important step towards delivering the government’s commitment to reduce the rate of stillbirths as outlined in Saving Babies’ Lives.

The consultation is running for 12 weeks until the 18 June 2019. To take part please see

If you or a loved one would like to discuss a stillbirth compensation claim or neonatal death compensation claim, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Reduction in Stillbirths Rates at Hospital in Hull

Well done to Hull Women’s and Children’s Hospital!

According to the Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust website, the Trust have reduced stillbirth by 36 per cent from 25 in 2016/17 to 14 so far in 2018/2019.

The Trust have adopted national guidelines to save babies’ lives. It puts helping women to stop smoking, monitoring women at risk of stillbirth more closely and checking babies’ heart rate during labour more effectively have all helped to reduce the stillbirth rate.

For more information please see

It’s still early days in terms of whether stillbirth and neonatal deaths will be reduced as desired by the NHS initiative but for now, this is really positive news to read. It’s really heart warming to see a Trust taking heed of national NHS guidelines and actually putting them into action which has an effect in the desired outcome i.e. reducing stillbirth rates.

It was only a few weeks ago that I read about a hospital in Bolton reducing their stillbirth rates. I look forward to reviewing more positive news in respect of reducing our dire stillbirth rates.

If you or a loved one would like to discuss a stillbirth compensation claim or neonatal death compensation claim, please do not hesitate to contact us.

SANDS United: The Team for Bereaved Fathers

How amazing (yet sad) is this idea? A football team comprised of bereaved fathers, supporting each other both on and off the pitch. I also love how each father has their babies name emblazoned on their shirt.

It’s such a wonderful idea on so many levels that no wonder the idea has taken off in the UK (and beyond).

Why is it so amazing?

Firstly, so often, fathers are left to grieve alone with the focus being on the mother. I know this from my own experience. Dad’s of stillborn babies and those who die shortly after birth grieve too. My husband and I always grieved differently but always as one. Football is a hobby of many men and I think it’s wonderful that there is an outlet available to grief with like minded people whilst playing a sport. Nobody understands the pain of losing a baby unless they have experienced it themselves. It must be such a cathartic experience to do something that you enjoy (playing football) with people who have walked in similar shoes to you.

Men’s well being and mental health is as important as a woman’s. Yes the experience between a mother and father in respect of losing a child is very different but Dad’s hurt too. Many often shy away from professional support and SANDS United gives them an outlet that they wouldn’t otherwise have.

Secondly, I think the concept of a SANDS football team is fab because it’s something to do in your child’s memory. It is a vehicle through which is remember them and to keep their precious memory alive.

Can you tell that I love this idea?

Well done Robert Allen. A massive thumbs up!

If you or a loved one would like to discuss a stillbirth compensation claim or neonatal death compensation claim, please do not hesitate to contact us.

New Research: Stillbirth Prevention

Tommy’s, an amazing charity which I am an avid supporter of, works tirelessly to conduct research into stillbirth. With 9 babies being stillborn EVERY DAY, they are keen to reduce our dire statistics.

New research that they have partly funded has found a better way to measure the risk of stillbirth for women with a common liver disorder, through a blood test.

This obviously only applies to a minority of women but notwithstanding this, any research to reduce stillbirth should be welcomed and applauded.

Well done Tommy’s and whoever else funded this research. I’m really pleased to read that we are tackling are shocking statistics.

If you or a loved one would like to discuss a stillbirth compensation claim or neonatal death compensation claim, please do not hesitate to contact us.

For more information see

Royal Bolton Hospital Reduces stillbirth Rate

It was quite heartwarming to read online recently that the Royal Bolton Hospital have reduced the number of babies who are stillborn.

According to the Bolton News, there are 3.5 stillbirths per 1,000 – down from 12 in January and there were no stillbirths in January this year, compared to 4.3 across the region. The hospital is apparently two years ahead of the national schedule.

The Chairman of the hospital acknowledges that whilst some stillbirths are unpreventable, others are caused by smoking in pregnancy, growth restriction, reduced fetal movement and the monitoring of CTG in pregnancy. On a professional note, I have sadly handled many cases involving the later three causes of stillbirth with monitoring of CTG (primarily lack of or poor interpretation of) being the central allegation in the stillbirth cases that I handle.

To try and reduce their stillbirth rate, the hospital have provided extra training to Midwifes in relation to fetal movements (supporting mums), tested the level of carbon monoxide levels in women, invested in Dawes-Redman CTG monitors to provide enhanced monitoring and they have trained more staff to scan small babies.

Stillbirth (and neonatal death) receives a lot of negative press in the media in relation to our dire statistics and lack of major improvements. In this vein, it really is amazing to see that some Trusts are investing time and resources into reducing the stillbirth rates and ensuring that as few parents as possible experience the gut wrenching pain of losing their much loved and wanted babies.

I just hope that the wonderful achievement of the Royal Bolton Hospital in relation to the reduction of stillbirth rates are mirrored by other hospitals too. Fingers and toes crossed……

If you or a loved one would like to discuss a stillbirth compensation claim or neonatal death compensation claim, please do not hesitate to contact us.

My Interview for the Legacy of Leo Blog: Working on Stillbirth Claims & Neonatal Death claims

So, to start us off, please can you let us know a little about your current role? What motivated you to do the job that you are doing now, and in what ways does it allow you to get involved in the baby loss cause?

I am a Medical Negligence Solicitor in the North West London office of Gregory Abrams Davidson. I have been a Solicitor for nearly 10 years and have, following qualification, specialised exclusively in Medical Negligence. 

My eldest daughter, Arella, was stillborn a week before her due date on 30 June 2012. When I finally returned back to work, I decided to focus my practice on assisting families who had suffered a stillbirth or neonatal death as a result of Medical Negligence.  The primary reason behind my decision was a passion and drive to help bereaved parents through the litigation process. 

I am not only a practicing Medical Negligence Solicitor, but I am also a bereaved mother and therefore, I (sadly) understand the gut-wrenching pain of losing a baby. This is in addition to having years of legal experience behind me. 

Following the stillbirth of Arella – during my darkest of days – I became a “walking encyclopaedia” on Stillbirth. Unbeknownst to me at that time, this would arm me with information which would help me in my working life. 

Another motivator that led to my decision to specialise in Stillbirth is to make change; thus continuing my Arella’s legacy. Whilst I would never have chosen to be in the position I found myself in after losing Arella, there is a part of me which feels “lucky” to be in a position to make a difference to peoples’ lives. 

Whilst some stillbirths sadly cannot be prevented even with the best of care, some deaths are avoidable and are caused as a direct result of a lack of care. This, in my opinion, should be a “never event”. 

I should add that I am a huge fan of the NHS. I myself received exemplary care from the hospital where Arella was born (the Whittington Hospital in North London) followed in later years by my three subsequent children, but I acknowledge that not everyone is as fortunate as me. 

Many hospitals are failing to provide a high enough standard of care to their patients. It is my intention that with the passage of time, I will be able to collate data from the cases I settle, identify the issues and weaknesses in the system and with this information, approach the various maternity bodies with the intention of ultimately educating doctors and midwives, thus reducing the number of stillbirths. This is a further driver behind my passion to spend my working days helping bereaved parents.

Whilst prevention is my longer-term aim, I strive to support bereaved parents through what is undoubtedly an extremely distressing time. As well as dealing with the pain of losing a baby, I cannot imagine how difficult it must be to deal with the stresses and anxieties caused by the litigation process.

I strive for justice on behalf of my clients, bereaved parents. I strive for change. 

What are the biggest frustrations or constraints that you face in supporting those affected by baby loss or preventing baby loss in the first place?

I love my job. However, I can get frustrated at times by needless, protracted litigation that, in my opinion, should have settled earlier. The average claim takes 2-3 years to settle. This obviously puts a huge emotional burden on my clients. There are occasions when a stance taken by a NHS Trust is so unreasonable (and illogical) which results in unnecessary drawn out litigation.  Such cases are ultimately successful, but it is upsetting to think that my clients could have been spared some pain and anguish, had a reasonable approach have been taken by the hospital trust at the outset.

I also find the end of a case, whether successful or not, incredibly sad. For those parents whose cases settle, I feel immense sadness sending them a cheque. And for those parents who bring unsuccessful cases, I feel immense sadness that they never got what they had originally set out to achieve. However, I believe that either scenario, despite the potential of igniting grief and giving it an additional element, it does bring with it a sense of closure. 

For those parents whose claims are unsuccessful, the majority should in time have the peace of mind that an independent expert has concluded that their precious baby did not die as a result of negligence.

I am not a Counsellor. I am not a befriender. I am a Solicitor. It can be hard to find the right balance on occasion.  However, I believe that my personal experience sadly equips me with the necessary skills to offer support and guide my clients throughout their legal process. I have the deepest of empathy which helps me to approach a case with the utmost care and sensitivity. 

Do you think that Baby Loss is still a taboo, and if so, why? Do you encounter issues with it being a taboo in your day to day work?

I think that Stillbirth/Neonatal Death is still a taboo. It is a grief left unspoken. It is every parent’s worst nightmare. Stillbirth/Neonatal Death is too awful to think or talk about but the harsh reality is that it happens.

Nevertheless, I definitely think that since Arella’s stillbirth 6.5 years ago, people are speaking more and the subject is attracting media attention. Sadly, stillbirth is far more common than people realise. 

Who else do you work alongside in terms of baby loss support or prevention? Are there any charities that support you, or perhaps a colleague that you couldn’t manage without?

As a result of Arella, I am able to guide people to help and support if they so wish. Grief is subjective. What works for one, does not work for another. We all have different coping mechanisms. I am able to point people in the right direction for help, should they so wish. 

With claims that are successful, as part of the settlement, I am able to ensure that my client(s) gets the right level of help to support them through the healing process as best as possible, for example in the form of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). As a result, I work with leading psychiatrists/psychologists.

When the job is hard, what one thing reminds you to keep on keeping on?

I’d be lying if I said my job was easy (emotionally). It’s not. I have cried over every single stillborn or neonatal death baby for whom I have sought justice and many of their stories deeply resonate with me. However, I try to focus on the bigger picture of why I do what I do and try not to lose sight of that. In addition, my job ensures that Arella’s legacy is continuing and that her little life is not lost in vein.

It’s likely that a newly bereaved parent is reading this. What would you like to say to them?

To a newly bereaved parent, I would like to say the following:

I truly understand the gut-wrenching agony of losing a baby. There are simply no words to describe it. You will find a way, your way, to get through it. My husband and I always grieved differently, but always as one. Be kind to yourself. Don’t expect too much. There will be days when you are literally drowning in grief and others that are more bearable. You’ve got to do whatever YOU have to do to get through the dark days. There is a lot of support out there. Take whatever is on offer. Don’t expect too much from yourself. There is some truth to the cliché that “time is healer”. Whilst the passage of time does not eradicate the pain, it will enable you to find your own coping mechanisms. 

Be kind to yourself.

We have some ambitious targets for baby loss currently in the UK. What are your specific hopes for the future in terms of maternity and baby loss?

It is not until you experience the pain of a stillbirth that you realise that’s it’s not such a rare occurrence: Everybody knows somebody. The statistics on stillbirth in the UK are shocking: According to SANDS (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Charity), around 15 babies each day died before, during or soon after birth every day in 2016. One in every 227 births was a Stillbirth and there were a total of 3,434 stillborn babies in 2015. That’s around 9 babies stillborn every single day. The pattern of bereaved parents’ lives is torn apart in a way which renders them forever-changed. 

These bleak statistics are illustrative of the fact that in an era of medical advancement, we are not improving our knowledge and understanding surrounding stillbirth. 

Stillbirth is more common than cot death and yet every mother knows about and is fearful of cot death – I was given a booklet by my midwife on one occasion, outlining “how to prevent a cot death”. I appreciate that there is a fine line between educating and scaremongering but that said, I believe that the appallingly high stillbirth rates signal the need for immediate change.

As things stand at the moment, we cannot educate mothers as we have no answers to offer; “Your baby may have a cot death but we have carried out a lot of research and here is a list of things that you can do to prevent it” sounds far more palatable than “Your baby may be stillborn but I’m afraid we don’t know what warning signs to look out for as very little research has been carried out”. Why can’t the same attention and detail that was rightly given to cot death be applied to stillbirth in order for us to similarly improve our understanding and limit our number of stillborn babies?

I hope that government action be taken to tackle the unacceptably high level of stillbirths in the form of funding into research. It is pleasing to see evidence of a gradual shift towards recognition of the fact that more could be done to prevent stillbirth. 

I hope that we reduce our numbers and also improve our bereavement care, which is something of a postcode lottery. The stark contrast in the standard of care offered by different Trusts to bereaved parents is something that needs to be addressed. I was lucky. I had the most wonderful Bereavment Midwife and Consultant who I will forever hold a special place for in my heart. Experiences vary and not all bereaved parents are as fortunate as me; lacking the support of health professionals following the death of their baby. They are left to try to cope on their own, save for the odd visit from the community midwife. 

It horrifies me to learn that not all hospitals have allocated funds for a Bereavement Midwife and for those that do, many of the Bereavement Midwives are hopeless. I realise how “blessed” I am to have had such a wonderful Bereavement Midwife in my life; I have sadly met many bereaved mums, none of whom have this vital lifeline. I have met women who, 6 months on, are still on a waiting list for counselling. What good is that when for some women, ending their lives immediately after losing their baby is seen as the only way out?

Whilst the care that I received was exemplary, on the other hand, I cannot help but partly “blame” the NHS as a whole for failing to do all it could to find out that I was having a “high risk” pregnancy before it was too late. We do not have the necessary screening tools in place due to a lack of research funding. A third of stillborn babies are perfectly formed and born at gestations when they might safely be delivered but routine antenatal care is failing to detect far too many babies who need help. Research is urgently needed to identify new reliable, diagnostic tests.

The interview can be found here:

Approaching Medical Negligence Cases with the Deepest of Empathy | Amy, Bereaved mother & Solicitor for the #Itstilltakesavillage blog series

If you or a loved one would like to discuss a stillbirth compensation claim or neonatal death compensation claim, please do not hesitate to contact us.