SANDS Awareness Month 2021: Dr David Crichton

June is SANDS (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death charity) Awareness Month and in today’s blog, I would like to highlight the importance of expectant mothers keeping in contact with health care services.

Lockdown has been especially hard for many people with health conditions and being pregnant is no exception. Most people have successful pregnancies whilst for a small few they can be more complicated, each experience affects each person and their family differently.

For anyone reading this who is expecting a baby, congratulations. My plea to you is to please pay attention to the pregnancy advice from your midwife and if you have any worries whatsoever about your baby or your own health just ask.

Health services in Doncaster are open and there is always someone available to you 24 hours a day, seven days a week. From NHS 111 to the Same Day Health Centre – our local pharmacies can help with common pregnancy side affects like nausea and heartburn.

There are many benefits for expectant mothers attending regular check-ups with healthcare staff and take up the offer of routine immunisations to help protect themselves and their baby, this includes the COVID-19 vaccination.

The latest advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is that COVID-19 vaccines should be offered to pregnant women at the same time as the rest of the population, in line with the age group roll out. It’s also worth noting that women who may be trying to become pregnant do not need to delay trying to get pregnancy after vaccination and there is no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 vaccines will affect fertility.

It’s estimated that 1 in 4 pregnancies sadly end with miscarriage and baby loss which can have a devastating effect on the whole family. Lockdown has at times meant that there are women in our communities who have experienced loss and felt incredibly alone throughout because of the disruption to normal protocols COVID-19 has brought about.

The advice I want to share today is to please come forward and ask for support if you are struggling to cope with loss or the trauma of losing a baby. You are not alone and there are many services which could potentially help: including mental health services which you can self-refer on to.

Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services provide short-term interventions, which include both low and high intensity cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), Eye movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) which can be particularly helpful in treating trauma which often families experience when they lose a baby. The Rotherham and Doncaster IAPT service also offer counselling for depression, couples therapy for depression and generic counselling.

In Doncaster, we also have a Maternity Voices Partnership where you can feedback your views and experiences of maternity care and services which helps the whole maternity sector improve and shape how things are done.

SANDS Awareness Month is an annual event to raise awareness of the facts and impacts relating to neonatal deaths and stillbirths. The loss of a child in pregnancy or childbirth affects parents for life, but the wider public are not always aware of the full impact of such a tragedy.

The aim of the month is to raise funds as well as awareness, to support research into neonatal death. Often the causes of death are unknown, but many neonatal deaths and stillbirths have no apparent cause, which is an extra anguish to the bereaved parents.

SANDS aims to provide vital support to make sure that parents can cope with bereavement in the best possible way and understand that they are not to blame for a baby’s death when sometimes there are no answers as to why it happened. SANDS can help families to cope with life during this difficult time when sometimes others around them may struggle to understand or know what to say.

For more information about SANDS please visit https://www.sands.org.uk/.

To find out more about mental health services available in Doncaster visit this webpage.

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