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Over the past 25 years we have supported many thousands of families whose babies have died, offering emotional support, comfort and practical help.
However, we have done much more than offer desperately needed support.
When a baby dies the kind of care the parents receive from those looking after them and their baby has a huge impact on their perception of the experience, and how they cope and deal with their loss in the long term.
We have worked tirelessly with health professionals to revolutionise the care bereaved families receive in hospital. Gone are the days when stillborn babies were whisked away before their parents could see them, never being given the chance to welcome their babies into the world and say a proper goodbye.
Sands has fundamentally changed the way in which bereaved parents and their babies are cared for.
Seminal publications such as 'The Loss of your Baby', (1979), and 'Sands Guidelines for Professionals', which has been revised this year, with the 2007 edition now available, has resulted in midwives across the UK being properly trained on how to care for bereaved parents.
Sands also lobbied for several years to achieve the passing of the Stillbirth (Definition) Act 1992, changing the definition of stillbirth to a baby born after 24 weeks completed gestation (previously it had been 28 weeks). This was a major breakthrough, which had huge significance for parents - a baby who is stillborn is now recognised in law as an individual and so the baby's death must be registered and the baby buried or cremated.
Even simple things, such as the introduction of the Sands teardrop sticker, used on maternity and medical files, alerts health professionals that the mother has lost a baby, saving mothers in future pregnancies from misjudged questions and much heartache.
Much has been done to support those affected by the loss of a baby but with 17 babies stillborn or dying shortly after birth every day in the UK, there is much still to be done. We believe this figure is unacceptably high, and we want to ensure that as few parents as possible have to experience this devastating loss.
We are developing strong links with researchers and organisations in the UK and internationally. Together we are working to promote changes in practice which could help to save more babies' lives, and to identify and fund research which could further progress our understanding of stillbirth and neonatal death.
As part of this pledge we are hosting in October 2007 the International Stillbirth Alliance conference, Perinatal Loss: Improving care and prevention.
The conference will focus on perinatal loss - the human impact, the causes, and the possiblities for prevention. Its purpose is to gain insights and ideas for future collaborative initiatives to reduce the burden of perinatal death. Please follow the link to find out more or to book a place for the conference.