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Grieving families urged to seek support and talk



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To coincide with Baby Loss Awareness Week, a bereavement midwife is sharing her experiences and best advice.

Mel Butcher, a mother of two, became a midwife after working as a neonatal nurse, a profession she embarked on after she recalled her aunt losing a baby at just 34 hours old.

She explained: “You never forget having something like that happen to your family. The impact has followed me throughout my life.”

Mel Butcher, bereavement midwife at Kings Mill hospital (18851878)
Mel Butcher, bereavement midwife at Kings Mill hospital (18851878)

Mel became a bereavement midwife in 2016.

“My primary responsibility is to be a point of contact for families and making sure I am there to provide support for them as well as during labour and delivery,” she said.

“The most important thing is that I am there to listen and just be there for them as long as they need me. There is no end point, as grief is such an individual process.”

Mel said one of the best things they could do was help the grieving parents create memories of their baby, which could help with the grieving process.

“The loss of a baby is devastating, but in the passage of time, families can have lovely memories, not just of the pregnancy and delivery, but of the time they spent with their baby afterwards as well.”

Mel will work with the families to make their baby’s hand and footprints, take photographs and, if they want, give their baby a bath, dress them, and take them for a walk in a pram.

Mel said that although her job had very hard days, especially as she had children of her own, she found it incredibly rewarding to help families in their hour of need.

“It sounds like a sad job, but it is so rewarding,” she said.

“We can help to shift a bad experience into a memory-filled one full of love.

“You definitely need a support network around you because it is not the kind of job you can just switch off from. We do have support from our clinical supervisors if we have had a particularly hard day that we are struggling with.”

The most important message for grieving families is that they aren’t alone, and Mel said she would always encourage families to reach out and get the support they need if they have lost a baby.

“It’s also rewarding for families to come along to a support group, as it’ll help them to see other families and talk about their experiences,” she said.

Every year, Newark Hospital gives away tea-lights for people to light a candle in memory of the babies they have lost.

These will be available in the hospital’s main entrance on Monday from 10am to 2pm.

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