By Lucy Kapasi
A hospital trust in the West Midlands has become the first in the NHS to offer paid leave for staff who lose a baby at any stage including through miscarriage and abortion.
Birmingham Women's and Children's NHS Foundation Trust say they want to lead from the front and help break the taboo of pregnancy loss.
The leave will be offered to women and their partners.
Additional support has also been announced for parents who have a premature baby.
The Trust has a team of 6,500 and it says it has made the move to ensure colleagues have the time and space to process, grieve and begin to heal at a time when staff need it most.
Chief executive, Sarah-Jane Marsh said as an organisation focused on the care of women and babies, the trust was passionate about increasing awareness of this important issue, especially as, for many, it still carries a stigma.
"Too many women and families suffer in silence, and with one in every four pregnancies ending in loss, this has to change.
"As far as this policy is concerned, a baby is a baby straight away, so we're not saying you need to be 24 weeks or 37 weeks. This is anybody that experiences a loss of any kind. A few people have said to me, Sarah Jane what is this costing and I said we really need to think about the cost of not doing it because I'm sure there are lots of women who are taking the time anyway but feeling guilty and not actually talking about the reasons and then not being able to bring their whole self back to work because they've got these emotions and they've not had the right opportunities."
Faye Sayers, a midwife from Redditch who works at the hospital has welcomed the move. Her first child Douglas was stillborn at 32 weeks in 2018.
Her second child, Leonard, was born earlier this year at 32 weeks and received care at the Women’s Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
“I think this new policy will be incredible for women, families and other children to be able to have the time to be a family and process everything that’s going on at such a difficult time.
"Baby loss is still a taboo. The more conversations that happen can offer more insight and understanding into this really important issue. It’s possible to overcome. It’s not easy but it’s possible to overcome.”
The package of support includes:
Up to 10 days paid leave for the person who was pregnant and up to five days paid leave for the partner. This includes, but is not limited to, miscarriage, stillbirth, abortion, ectopic pregnancy, molar pregnancy and neonatal loss.
Staff will be offered paid time off for appointments linked to pregnancy loss, for example, medical examinations, scans and tests and mental health-related interventions.
A promise that all requests to work flexibly following a bereavement will be treated with understanding and sensitivity.
The Trust has also announced it has signed up to the Smallest Things ‘Employer with Heart’ Charter to offer staff whose baby is born prematurely additional support. It includes extended leave at full pay until the estimated date of when maternity leave was due to commence and two weeks paid leave for partners allowing paternity leave to be taken later.
For advice and support on pregnancy or baby loss: