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You will find below answers to questions we are commonly asked. If you would like any further information please don't hesitate to contact us.
Q. What is Sands?
A. Sands is a national charity that supports anyone affected by the death of a baby and promotes research to reduce the loss of babies’ lives. Sands was founded in 1978 by a small group of bereaved parents devastated by the death of their babies, particularly by what they felt was a complete lack of acknowledgement and understanding of the significance and impact of their loss.
Q. What does Sands do?
A. Sands has 3 core aims, which are to:
- support anyone affected by the death of a baby;
- work with health professionals to improve the quality of care and services provided to bereaved parents and their families;
- promote changes in antenatal practice and fund research that could help to reduce the loss of babies' lives.
Q. What services do you offer?
A. We offer a wide range of support services for anyone affected by the death of a baby including:
- National Helpline – 020 7436 5881 or e mail helpline(at)uk-sands.org where bereaved parents, family members and health professionals can talk in confidence to an experienced support worker. The helpline service currently receives over 200 calls a week and sends out 130 bereavement information packs a week.
- Support Groups – 020 7436 7940 for contact details, which are run by and for bereaved parents at a local level in many parts of the UK. There are almost 100 support groups now running across the UK.
- Information resources – 020 7436 7940 which includes publications and leaflets on the many emotional and practical issues which parents face.
- Online forum and message boards - www.forum.sandsforum.org,
enabling bereaved families to connect with others.
- Website – www.uk-sands.org the website consists of wide-ranging and separate sections for bereaved parents, for Sands Groups, and for health and social care professionals, together with detailed information on how the services that Sands offers can be accessed.
We also work closely with health professionals to improve the care that parents receive in hospitals. For over 30 years we have worked in partnership with health professionals to improve understanding of what it means to lose a baby, and of what professionals can do to support and care for parents when their baby dies.
We are also actively promoting research through our high profile Why17? campaign, www.why17.org to reduce the loss of babies lives by 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.
Q. What has Sands done to improve care when a baby dies?
A. No-one can take away the pain parents feel when their baby dies. But sensitive, supportive care in hospital can help to ease the process of grieving.
We have worked in partnership with health professionals for over 30 years to improve understanding of what it means to lose a baby, and of what professionals can do to support and care for parents when their baby dies. We believe that the principles of honesty and respect and the need for clear information and communication should underpin bereavement care.
Q. What is Sands doing towards researching the causes of stillbirth and neonatal death?
A. 17 babies are stillborn or die shortly after birth every day in the UK. Sands launched in June 2008 our high profile Why17? campaign, which asks a simple question. Why in spite of medical advances, do 17 babies die every day in the UK?
For some of these deaths we simply do not yet know enough to be able to say why. Further research is needed.
But increasingly, Sands believes that many of these deaths are potentially avoidable. The devastating impact of the death of a baby on the parents and their families and friends could be prevented.
What is needed is better antenatal care, increased funding for maternity services, more midwives and increased funding for research.
Sands Why17? campaign is seeking to raise funds to;
- Focus public awareness on why, tragically, 17 babies a day in the UK are stillborn or die within the first twenty eight days of life;
- Promote changes in antenatal practice that could prevent babies from dying;
- Identify and support key research with could provide further information on why so many babies are dying.
Q. How long has Sands been a charity?
A. Sands is a national charity, established by bereaved parents in 1978, and received charity status in 1981.
Q. Where is Sands based?
A. Sands head office is in London. Sands also has nearly 100 regional support groups in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Q. Are you a national charity?
A. Yes we are a national charity, with around 100 regional support groups in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Q. Do you have any regional offices?
A. Yes, we have a regional office in Northern Ireland run by our NI co-ordinator, Steven Guy. This is the first regional Sands office in the UK. We also have a national network of nearly 100 regional support groups and can put parents, friends and relatives in touch with their nearest group.
Q. Who can contact Sands for help and support?
A. We provide support for anyone affected by a baby’s death, however long ago their baby died, including family, friends, and health and social care professionals.
Q. What is a stillbirth?
A. Stillbirth is when a baby is born dead after 24 completed weeks of pregnancy or more.
Q. What is a neonatal death?
Neonatal death is when a baby is born alive but dies under the age of 28 days.
Q. How many babies are stillborn each year in the UK?
A. Over 4,000 babies are stillborn each year in the UK.
Q. How many babies are classed as neonatal deaths each year in the UK?
A. Over 2,500 babies die within the first 28 days of life each year in the UK
Q. Are there any things that mums can do to try and reduce their risks of having a stillbirth?
A. There are several things that we would advise all mums to do as part of a normal pregnancy:
- Eat well and stay healthy.
- Stop smoking, preferably before you are pregnant, but stopping at any time helps your baby’s wellbeing. Partners should also stop smoking.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs.
- Avoid infections such as listeria and salmonella: you can get more information on this from your midwife.
- Book early and go to all your antenatal appointments – regular monitoring can pick up early signs if your baby is not developing well.
- Report any bleeding or abdominal pain immediately.
- Be aware of your baby’s movements. A reduction in movements can indicate something is not right, so if you notice a change in the pattern of your baby’s movements that worries you call your midwife or maternity unit straight away - don't wait until the next day.
- Talk to your midwife about the risk factors for stillbirth: if you are at higher risk your pregnancy care should take that into account.