Throughout June SANDS Awareness Month will be breaking the silence about babyloss. Sadly, 15 babies die before, during or shortly after birth every day in the UK – that’s 15 too many.

On the 15th June, the still birth and neonatal death charity (SANDS) would like everyone to get involved by posting a message on media using the hashtag #15babiesaday to highlight the statistic and its everlasting impact.

The charity aims to raise money to help provide care to families and develop research that will look at ways to prevent neonatal deaths.

Extreme stress and baby health

The importance of high-quality antenatal mental health services has hit the headlines in the last year, and not without good reason. A recent US study has suggested that one of the major contributors to both stillbirth and neonatal deaths is extreme stress during pregnancy.

The study looked at more than 2,000 women who were surveyed 24 hours after a delivery. About 600 women who’d experienced a stillbirth were recruited to take part.

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The researchers found that women who said they had experienced five or more stressful life events in the past year, such as the death of a loved one or a demanding job, were 2.5 times more likely to have a stillbirth compared with women who experienced no stressful life events in the past year.

Researcher Marian Willinger, of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), said the findings, “reinforces the need for health care providers to ask expectant mothers about what is going on in their lives, monitor stressful life events and to offer support as part of prenatal care.”

Achieving better mental health

Good mental health support and stress-relieving techniques should be a key element of antenatal care.  Angela J Spencer, baby wellbeing expert and creator of Babyopathy, a sensory and holistic baby development programme, points out that many of us find it hard to manage our stress levels.

“When we are stressed our bodies produce cortisol, ‘the stress hormone’, which causes the fight or flight response and is part of our human nature,” Angela says on her blog. “A certain amount of cortisol is needed during pregnancy to pass on the natural instincts that we all have. However, too much stress and too much cortisol raises a risk of health problems in your unborn baby.

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Angela created Babyopathy and all of her workshops, classes and campaigns to actively work to reduce stress for pregnant mums. She argues that supporting both mums and their baby’s using sensory development techniques can improve wellbeing throughout pregnancy, birth and beyond.

She adds: “One of the very reasons I developed Babyopathy and started the Routine in the Womb campaign… with online stress awareness webinars and workshops is that by knowing your baby’s routine in the womb helps you identify if something is wrong.”

Where to get help

Tommy’s, a pregnancy research and information organisation, has put together an article explaining how and when to get help if you are struggling with stress or anxiety. The PANDAS Foundation also offer dedicated support to those suffering from pre- and post-natal depression.

The SANDS charity participates in high level lobbying of all four UK governments to stimulate more research how more baby deaths can be prevented. By promoting collaboration between researchers, they hope to ensure the limited funds are used in the best way.

Fifteen baby deaths a day is 15 too many. Support the cause by using the hashtag #15babiesaday and encourage others to donate or fundraise now.