A Harrogate dad was invited to tell the heartbreaking story of the death of his baby boy at a major NHS conference as part of a new national campaign to reduce the number of stillbirths.
Chris Binnie, whose son Henry was stillborn at 38 weeks, addressed around 200 midwives and other healthcare professionals at the launch of the Saving Babies’ Lives initiative in Leeds last Wednesday.
Mr Binnie, 34, of First Avenue, who is an ambassador for Harrogate baby bereavement charity Our Angels, spoke on behalf of all parents who have gone through the trauma of losing a baby.
He said: “It was a really big honour that I got to speak about Henry because there are so many families who are going through this. Henry represented all the other little babies who have lost their lives.
“Emotionally it was quite challenging, but hopefully it was beneficial because I think it really got the message across about why it is so important to take all these new directives on board and introduce them to hospitals, because every single baby’s life is so important.
“There was a clinical presentation, but they wanted someone to humanise it and make it more personal so that the medical professionals were encouraged to go back and change their practices.”
There are more than 3,000 stillbirths out of about 665,000 births in England each year, according to the NHS.
The Saving Babies’ Lives care bundle offers advice to parents, doctors and midwives to help prevent stillbirths.
It includes information about quitting smoking during pregnancy, monitoring foetal growth and movement, and monitoring the baby during labour.
The initiative aims to halve the rate of stillbirths by 2030 and is the first time guidance has been issued specifically for reducing baby deaths during pregnancy.
Mr Binnie said: “It’s a real step forward that they are starting to take practical steps to get stillbirth rates down.
“Harrogate Hospital has just appointed a new bereavement midwife and she was at the conference.
“It’s really positive the hospital has appointed her in this new post, as it is something we have been requesting for a while, and we are already starting to see some genuine practical steps forward on a local level.
“One of the midwives who was with us at the hospital when Henry was born was also there, which almost completed the circle in a sense.”
The guidance was developed by NHS England alongside organisations including the Royal College of Midwives, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, British Maternal and Foetal Medicine Society and Sands, the stillbirth and neonatal death charity.
Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said: “NHS maternity care is now the safest it’s ever been, and most mums say they’re cared for brilliantly.
“But that makes it all the more tragic and heart wrenching when for a small number of families something goes terribly wrong.
“We could, however, cut the chances of this happening if all pregnant mums were encouraged to quit smoking, if proper monitoring takes place during pregnancy and if maternity providers listen carefully when pregnant women report worries about their baby’s movements.”