Last night featured my live national radio debut, with an interview on BBC Radio 5 Live about my experiences with Hugo.
The interview was in relation to MP Antoinette Sandbach talking in Parliament about the night her son Sam died of cot death and calling for better bereavement care for parents.
I learned of the piece through the wonderful Mel Scott, who posted on Facebook to say she had been asked to speak about her son Finley and the training she does with maternity health professionals in his memory.
A bereaved dad called in and gave a very emotional account of the loss of his son, and how fathers receive very little support. You can hear the dad, as well as other interviews from the main part of the programme through In Short.
A representative from Bliss also spoke on the programme, which was very heartening because baby bereavement care often focuses on stillbirth. Stillbirth and neonatal death are equal tragedies, but have slightly different needs: facilities for families who have suffered a stillbirth include bereavement midwives and bereavement suites on postnatal wards, but for many parents whose baby died in the NICU their time on the maternity wards was some days, weeks, or even months before, leading to disjointed and uncoordinated support.
Several other posts describe my own experiences, and the experiences of other women who have lost a baby, as well as what needs to be done to improve support – including Language Matters; The Option for Compassionate End-of-Life Care; Easy and Quick Access to Counselling After Baby Loss; My #MatExp Action and about the #PNDHour chat, to name just a few.
I called the programme and spoke to a lovely researcher about Hugo. A little while later, the producer called asking if I would be prepared to speak live about my experiences, and what could have been done better just after 11.30pm. I was nervous, but thrilled to be able to speak about #HugosLegacy on national radio.
I am pleased with how I did. My own assessment is that was a fair balance between what went well and what could have been done better; and between emotion and fact.
I was also pleased to have got in a mention for HELLP syndrome; for my blog; #HugosLegacy; the work I have been doing with St George’s; and #MatExp.
My comms and PR background stood me in good stead – when I worked in a press office I would be the liaison between the media and colleagues who were going to be interviewed, helping brief and prepare them.
Many years ago, when I worked for a PCT in public health I would regularly do recorded interviews for local radio about things like encouraging women to have their smear tests, and healthy lifestyles. Thankfully, I have come a long way since my first live local radio interview, which came with about 10 minutes’ notice during the swine flu pandemic. I was so eager to convey all my key messages I didn’t let the presenter get a word in, much to the amusement of my boss.
I am hopeful that step by small step, by raising awareness on such platforms we can achieve better bereavement support for all parents who lose a precious baby.
If you experienced complications in pregnancy or have lost a baby, please also take a moment to complete the National Maternity Review survey.