Monday, 11 September 2023
Private Members' Business
Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month
I think this is possibly the third or fourth year that I have spoken on a private member's motion acknowledging Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. Speaking on this issue holds a special place in my heart. I want to acknowledge all the mums, dads, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles and everyone who has been affected by the loss of a much wanted baby, and I thank the member for Werriwa for once again shining a light on this subject.
As shared already, more than 100,000 Australians are impacted by miscarriage every year, and, on average, six babies are stillborn every day and two infants pass away within 28 days of birth. When I spoke last year, I shared the story of local nurse Collette Butler, who lost her daughter Amelia at 38 weeks and four days during labour. It was a really strange few months of physically being in pain from grief and sadness but also trying to figure out, as Collette said, 'What do I do now?' Driven by a desire to support other families experiencing pregnancy and infant loss, Collette reached out to me seeking support for a fundraising event that she held in October last year to raise funds and awareness. Using the funds raised, Collette has gone on to establish the not-for-profit organisation Beyond the Rainbow and to create baby loss gift boxes to donate to grieving parents. Designed as a compliment to Bears of Hope, the boxes include items such as a baby memory journal, baby loss affirmation cards, a soft toy and a photo frame. The box also includes a resource book called A little help from Jack written by Emily Judd, whose second child, Jack, was born still at 39 weeks. Beyond the Rainbow has a mission to support families experiencing baby loss and to healthcare providers, with a focus on sustainability and sustainability of care that will result in more supportive outcomes within the healthcare setting.
While I know many bereaved parents receive excellent health care after enduring pregnancy loss, it is distressing that in Tasmania there are no bereavement units available for parents. This matter has been acknowledged by Collette herself, and Emma and Adam Deane, who recently wrote to the Tasmania government requesting additional support for bereaved parents. Emma says: 'The loss of a child can occur at any stage of pregnancy, and we hope that in the future there is a safe and inclusive space for those experiencing the trauma of loss. Is it unreasonable and unrealistic to expect that there would be a safe and inclusive space where families experiencing the loss of a child not be placed on a maternity ward with constant reminders? Would it not be reasonable to have a space specifically suited to families in the same situation as ours, where you feel safe to leave your room? A space with trauma informed clinicians who specialise in assisting families who have experienced the loss of a child, whether it be at the beginning of pregnancy or at full term?' I'd encourage health ministers from all states to put in place best practice care for parents navigating pregnancy and infant loss, to help ease the grief that they're suffering. A separate space removed from the maternity ward and with the right wraparound services would be a good place to start. I'd also like to acknowledge local small-businesses owners Amanda Reilly and Jasmine Shepherd, co-owners of the wonderful independent store adoreu baby, in Launceston. Adoreu baby is believed to be the first baby goods store in the country to have a gift range for bereaved parents. Amanda said:
I think, being inclusive as a baby store, that you need to include those people; they also had a baby.
Their initiative has been supported by Keren Ludski from Red Nose Australia, who has encouraged more baby stores to stock items related to infant loss as a way of taking away the taboo that can still follow the topic of pregnancy and infant loss. Ms Ludski says:
It's so important, equally for bereaved parents and for those friends and family of bereaved parents, to know that there is something they can buy that is meaningful and establishes that ongoing connection for the parents to that baby, and also shows that bereaved family that you're here.
My heart goes out to anyone impacted by pregnancy and infant loss, and I want to say that your baby and your experience matters. Finally, my congratulations to Collette and her partner who have recently welcomed their second child, a beautiful baby boy, Franklin.