Ahead of Baby Loss Awareness Week, Andy Rutherford and Tom Moody found out from two Gwent families about the shattering impact of losing a child in pregnancy and shortly afterwards, and why it is vital to break the societal taboo around the subject.

BREAK the Silence - a simple phrase bearing a very serious message - is the heartbreaking and pertinent mantra for Baby Loss Awareness Week this year.

And for Newport mum Sarah Davies, it is accompanied by another equally simple and poignant message - every heartbeat matters.

On Sunday, October 13, at 2.30pm, St Julians Methodist Church in Newport will host a baby loss memorial service - the second to be organised by Newport-based charity Ffion's Gift.

The charity was set up by Ms Davies after she and partner David Hope lost their daughter Ffion, stillborn in March 2015 after a diagnosis of chromosome disorder Edwards Syndrome was made during pregnancy.


Ffion's Gift was set up to supplement the private cost of a test for Edwards Syndrome, and to campaign for a such a test to be made available on the NHS. With Ms Davies' help, it now is in Wales.

The organisation is also an enthusiastic backer of Baby Loss Awareness Week in Gwent, and has commissioned its own baby loss ribbons, with proceeds to Baby Loss Awareness.

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"We had about 12 people at the first service last year, but this year's service has had a lot of coverage on social media pages. A lot of people have said on Facebook that they are going to attend," said Ms Davies (above).

"That's wonderful, because people should feel they can talk about their babies.

"As a parent who has lost a child, I know there is a need to talk about them because they existed.

"As Brits, we tend to edge towards not saying things because we don't want to upset anyone, but for those who want to, they should be able to say their baby's name.

"I lost a child, but my child existed. It's really important to me because I lost Ffion so early. Because she was born before 24 weeks and did not take a breath, there is no record anywhere that she existed.

"But I heard her heartbeat, saw her wriggling on a scan, and I saw her moving. I think that is important for so many women.

"It is very much about breaking down barriers and the taboo that is baby loss and making it something OK to talk about.

"Our children did exist. From the moment I saw two lines on the pregnancy test, I was a mother. Every heartbeat matters."

Two venues in Newport - funeral directors Michael G Ryan Son and Daughters Limited, in Malpas Road, and the Royal Gwent Hospital - will be hosting memory trees for Baby Loss Awareness Week.

Ms Davies said the memory tree at Ryan's funeral directors has so far had 80 names.

"That proves to me that there is a need for this awareness campaign," she said.

The memory tree at the Royal Gwent is in the hospital's multi-faith chapel, in D Block, floor three, organised by anaesthetist Esther Godfrey.


Bereaved parents, patients, families or staff who have experienced the loss of a baby are welcome to take a moment to honour them and write their name, or a message, to hang on the tree.

While awareness of the importance of talking about baby loss is on the rise, there remains much more to do to enable people who have been through that trauma, many of whom suffer in silence, to open up about their experiences.

Crucially too, much more is required of communities and society in general in offering support to those who have been through baby loss, and who too often feel isolated with their grief and pain.

Baby Loss Awareness Week is the now-annual response to the issue by a range of charities, national and local. They encompass a range of aims, from support for families, to campaigning for improvements to bereavement care, and to reducing preventable deaths.

Last year, Newport Civic Centre clock tower was lit up in pink and blue to mark the awareness week - one of scores of buildings across the UK to deliver a very visual message about baby loss and the need to talk about it.

The civic centre will be lit up again this year - the awareness week runs from Wednesday, October 9, to Tuesday, October 15 - and other sites will also project pink and blue, including SSCL (Shared Services Connected Limited) at Celtic Springs Business Park in Newport, and King Financial Services in Pontnewydd in Cwmbran.

The balustrades at Newport's Friars Walk shopping centre will be first pink, then blue, as the week progresses and the marquee at Rodney Parade will be lit pink and blue for the Dragons' first home PRO 14 match versus Connacht on Friday, October 11.

For Mark and Fiona King, turning their King Financial Services premises in Lowlands Road, Pontnewydd, pink and blue next week is their way to help raise awareness of the support available to those who have experienced the agony of losing a baby.

Mrs King, aged 39, has lost four babies, and says she hopes that by sharing their experience, it will help others who are going through what they have experienced.

“It is about addressing the stigma and raising awareness of the support which is out there," she said.

"It is a really tough time and once you start talking about it, you find a lot of people have been through the same thing.

“It was an emotional rollercoaster for me."

“I had my first miscarriage in January 2010. It was a silent miscarriage, meaning it didn’t show up until I had my 12-week scan.

“I lost a baby in April 2010 too. Then I was pregnant with my son Joseph, and lost him at 19 weeks on August 11, 2011.

“I had a really early miscarriage in 2012. We moved to Blaenavon in 2012. Then we had Luca who was born in July 2013 and we were lucky to have Lilly four years later.

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Fiona and Mark King with their children Luca, six, and Lilly, two. Picture: Tom West Beehive Photography

“When I had my first miscarriage, I would have people I knew, but didn’t know well, crossing the road to avoid speaking to me and asking how I was.

“After my second miscarriage. I handed in my notice at my old job. My boss said to me that people there didn’t know what to say to me.”

Mrs King said there was limited support for parents who lost a child when she and her husband were experiencing this, although things have improved somewhat.

“Ten years ago there wasn’t any support really for parents, and what support I did get was completely by chance,” she said.

“My GP or the hospital didn’t recommend them. There was no support available for Mark that we could find.

“I thought we needed to do something this year. We have been through such a journey, and in the end we have had a happy ending.

"I have never really been emotionally strong enough before to talk about this and get involved with the charities, but now I am looking to do that.

“The other business in the building, Rhian Davies Chiropody/Podiatry, and the owner of the building have been very supportive and agreed to do this with us.”


Mr King, 49, said he hoped to raise awareness of the support parents were entitled to through work.

“It’s not so much the support for men that I was worried about,” he said.

“But they weren’t able to say how you can support mums in this situation. It was an upsetting time for me, but most of all I wanted to be able to support Fiona.

“Part of the time I thought I didn’t want to talk about it, as I didn’t want to bring it up as it was upsetting for both of us. But other people were saying we should be talking about it with each other. It was difficult to know how to approach it.

“It is about making a stand and making a show that there are people out there who have been through this and can help people through this.

"A lot of people aren’t aware of the support you can get in work. Fiona was in a good job and she didn’t know she was only covered for three months before she would be put on statutory sick pay.

“Not only is it an upsetting time for you, but you also then have this financial stress too.

“We have experience with this, and hopefully we can help other people in the same situation.

“It’s about being aware of these things, not to make people worry, but to have that information to hand in case something doesn’t go to plan.”

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