Baby loss

GARY BARLOW and his wife Dawn have been devastated by the stillbirth of their baby daughter Poppy.

The couple, who have three other children (Daniel, 11, Emily, nine and Daisy, three), have asked for privacy during what is a heartbreaking time for all the family.

“Poppy Barlow was delivered stillborn on August 4 in London,” said the Take That singer in a statement. “We’d ask at this painful time that our privacy be respected.”

Around 350 babies were stillborn in Ireland last year. Consultant obstetrician Professor Louise Kenny of CUMH says there are a number of reasons why this can occur.

“If a baby dies in the womb after 24 weeks, it is called a stillbirth and the rate in Ireland is similar to other countries like Britain which is around

4.6 stillbirths for 1,000 births,” she says. “There were around 75,000 births in Ireland last year so this is roughly 345 babies — nearly one a day, every day.

“In about half of the cases we never find a reason why babies are stillborn. Where a cause is found, the most common reason is a failure of the placenta, either chronically over a long period of time or acutely when it might become detached from the uterus.

“Sometimes both happen to the same baby as one is a risk factor for the other. Even in cases where we do not uncover a cause, many researchers, like me, suspect the placenta is at fault,” says Professor Kenny

“More research is desperately needed but this area of medicine does not attract funding and hence progress is slow.”

Ron Smith Murphy is the chairperson of A Little Lifetime Foundation which offers support to parents of stillborn babies. She says anyone going through a trauma like this should make sure their baby is remembered in a special way.

“My advice to anyone who has suffered a stillbirth is to take their time. There is no rush — their time with their baby is so very precious,” she says.

“It is incredibly important to create memories such as taking photographs or a video of the baby with parents and family, and photographs of the baby’s tiny features. Parents could also consider taking their baby home overnight or for a while. Other children should be encouraged to be part of this special time.”

Other recommendations include a funeral service or blessing with music or poetry which have a special meaning and a journal

“A Little Lifetime Foundation offers support to parents through meetings, one–to-one conversations, phone and our on-line forum, where mums and dads talk about their lives without their sons and daughters. We currently have 1,300 members,” says Smith Murphy.

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