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Brave Women Share Stories of Baby Loss in Poignant New Film

Brave Women Share Stories of Baby Loss in Poignant New Film

Brave women who have lost their babies share their stories in a poignant film aimed at breaking the stigma around miscarriage and stillbirth.

The eight women’s voices are not heard, symbolising the silence around the issue, but instead they hold handwritten cards bearing details of the children they have lost.

The short film, set to Daughtry’s Gone Too Soon, also uses stark statistics – such as that one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage – to highlight just how common their experiences are.

Emma Shields, who is mum to seven-year-old Alfie, came up with the idea after suffering four miscarriages - all within the first 10 weeks - while trying for her second child with husband Steven. 

Her work as a freelance photographer, capturing newborns in their first few precious weeks of life, made the grieving process even harder.

The 33-year-old, from Reddish, Stockport, who is the first face to appear on film, said: “I love my job but it was incredibly difficult to go back into the studio. I would keep my composure, hold the tears in, but once the shoot was over I crumbled.

“I didn’t want to spoil the experience for the people I was photographing, but when I did open up I realised just how many of us had been through the same thing.

“I’m lucky to have so much support, but not everyone does and I think when it happens in the early stages some women are made to feel as if they almost don’t have the right to grieve. 

“There are ladies in the film who delivered their babies at 30 and 38 weeks and I thought ‘what do I have to complain about?’ But you bond with your baby from the very beginning.”

The film, which is being shared on social media using the hashtag #stillhope, has been backed by leading charities Tommy’s and The Miscarriage Association

Helen Stanley, who appears in the film, is a midwife and medical advisor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers and says sometimes the unanswered questions are the hardest part.

The mum-of-three, who miscarried during her first pregnancy, said: “For women who experience the heartbreak of miscarriage, stillbirth or early neonatal loss, the most common question is why.

“It doesn’t discriminate, it can happen to anyone, of any age, from any background, and the reality is that there’s still a lot we don’t know about why it happens and that means some will never get the answers they so desperately need.  

“Some women also have to make the heart-wrenching decision to terminate their pregnancy due to a fetal abnormality and find it difficult to reach out to anyone to share their loss due to the guilt they feel over the decision they’ve made.

“It can be an incredibly isolating experience and that’s why this film is so important.”

Photographer Sara Callow, who specialises in family portraits, shot the film at Jamie Booth’s Millwood Photography Studios in Stalybridge. Both donated their time and space for free.

Sara said: “I have been a photographer for over a decade and have met many women with heartbreaking stories to tell.

“Emma is just one of many friends of mine who have been through child loss and I wanted to help in every way I could.”  

Watch Emma's film on Facebook here.

Photos: Sara Callow Photography

Where to get help

Emma and Helen have set up a Facebook group called ‘Miscarriage, Stillbirth & Infant Loss Manchester’ which women who have experienced baby loss can join for advice and support.  

The Miscarriage Association (01924 200 799) miscarriageassociation.org.uk supports women affected by miscarriage, ectopic and molar pregnancies. If you’re worried about a loved one you can also call the helpline which is manned Monday to Friday, 9am-4pm, or email info@miscarriageassociation.org.uk

Tommy’s funds research into miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth and provides pregnancy health information to parents. If you are pregnant and have immediate concerns you can contact the free Pregnancy Line, open 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday, on 0800 0147 800 or email midwife@tommys.org Visit tommys.org

Sands (0808 164 3332) sands.org.uk offers free support to anyone affected by the loss of a baby through stillbirth or neonatal death. You can call the helpline or email helpline@sands.org.uk The website also has an online forum where you can speak to people who have suffered similar experiences and a list of support groups so you can find the one closest to you.

ARC (0845 077 2290 or 0207 713 7486 if calling from a mobile) arc-uk.org. More than 40,000 pregnant women in the UK each year will be told their baby is at risk of a serious fetal anomaly. Antenatal Resource and Choices (ARC) supports families through antenatal screening when they are faced with the difficult decision whether to continue with the pregnancy. Their helpline is manned by trained staff from 10am-5.30pm, Monday to Friday.