Baby Loss Awareness Week

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:14 pm on 9th October 2018.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Will Quince Will Quince Conservative, Colchester 7:14 pm, 9th October 2018

It is a pleasure to follow Hugh Gaffney; I am pleased to say that his is one of the Scottish constituencies that I do not have a problem pronouncing. I should also like to thank all the previous speakers, particularly Ben Lake. He and the hon. Member for Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill have shown the importance of hearing men’s voices in the Baby Loss Awareness Week debate. I particularly want to thank the Backbench Business Committee for allowing the time for this debate, and my hon. Friend Antoinette Sandbach, the co-chair of the all-party parliamentary group, for securing this important debate for the third year running.

In November 2015, when I was a relatively newly elected MP, I remember coming back after the recess and putting in for an end-of-day Adjournment debate. Based on my own experience, I thought we should have a debate on bereavement care in maternity units. Little did I think that we would have made such progress in just over three years. We now have the all-party parliamentary group, and we are in our third year of marking Baby Loss Awareness Week here in Parliament. That demonstrates the power of this place when we put aside the squabbling and party political differences and work together with a clear aim. It is clear that we are united and speak with one voice when we say that we are committed to reducing stillbirths and neonatal deaths—I include miscarriage in that description. We are also committed to ensuring that we have world-class bereavement care right across our world-class NHS for those who go through the huge personal tragedy of losing a child.

This is a particularly important and poignant week for me and my family, because it is four years ago this week that we lost our son, Robert. We will be marking his birthday on Friday, when he would have been four years old. On Sunday, my two daughters and I picked out the birthday cake that we will be sharing. Sadly, we are just one example of the families who are going through this experience week in and week out, up and down our country.

We should not underestimate the importance of talking about baby loss. This is why debates such as these are so important and powerful. Totally wrongly, baby loss is a massively taboo subject. We have made huge efforts over the past three and a half years to try to break the silence and the taboo by working with charities, organisations and health professionals, but the taboo still exists. It exists because we do not like talking about death, full stop, and particularly about the death of children or babies. It is important that we talk about it, however, because that little baby was a huge part of somebody’s life. It is part of their story and their journey, and to ignore it can cause irreparable issues.

We must use the power of Parliament to break that taboo and talk about the issue, rather than crossing the street and avoiding someone who has suffered a stillbirth, miscarriage or neonatal death. We should talk to them about it. We should ask about their child and refer to them by their name, because people do want to talk. If they do not want to talk, they will tell us. It is really important that they should not be ignored.