Leanne had three miscarriages – each one traumatic in its own way. After her second loss, Leanne had support from her mum and her husband John, but she had started withdrawing from others, particularly her brother and sister-in-law who had just had a baby.
“I found myself in a very dark place. I had chosen to keep my losses a secret from everyone. I started to make excuses not to go to family events. I missed my niece’s christening. In a cruel way my miscarriages started to rule my life.”
Leanne’s GP put her in touch with Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research, led by Professor Quenby, consultant obstetrician at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire.
“As soon as I walked into the clinic, it felt like being part of a family who understood what I was going through.”
Diagnosed with a blood clotting disorder, Leanne agreed to participate in a randomised clinical trial. Despite experiencing a third miscarriage, she was given the support and care she needed to persist in her dream of becoming a mother. She became pregnant again and, at 32 weeks, allowed herself to tell the wider family, and some friends, the good news. Professor Quenby’s team did everything to reassure her and provide support every step of the way, including monitoring and scans twice to three times a week.
Paisley was born on 1st March 2018. After so many heart-wrenching disappointments, it wasn’t easy for her to bond with her daughter. She had an overwhelming sense of guilt about the babies she had lost and a fear that everything would go wrong again, but when Paisley was three months old, that all changed.
“At three months old I had this wave of emotion come over me. The love I felt for Paisley that was impossible to describe … I enjoy everything about motherhood. My family and I will never be able to thank enough Professor Quenby and her staff, Tommy’s and the UHCW for everything they have done for us. They have made our lives complete and for that we will be forever grateful.”
Thank you for supporting Tommy's and for enabling us to be able to give families like Leanne & John's happy, healthy babies to take home.
The Saving Babies' Lives Care Bundle reduces stillbirths by a fifth
An NHS ‘care bundle’ is an action plan put together by experts and carried out on all patients who meet certain criteria. Care bundles are targeted on causes of death or ill-health and are designed to save lives. The Saving Babies’ Lives Care Bundle is a group of actions that have been put together to reduce stillbirth. Tommy’s has been heavily involved in the design of the NHS Saving Babies’ Lives Care bundle through the involvement of clinicians from our Manchester Stillbirth Research Centre, guidance of our CEO Jane Brewin and our work on a leaflet designed to raise awareness of the importance of monitoring reduced fetal movements: Feeling your baby move is a sign that they are well.
"Being aware of movements saved my son's life. Even though I did feel like I was needlessly wasting the hospital's time, I'm so glad I did call them when I felt that his movements had slowed down." - Agatha
The Care Bundle focused on the following elements: reducing smoking in pregnancy, closer monitoring of fetal growth restriction, raising public awareness of monitoring reduced fetal movement, and effective fetal monitoring during labour.
Each element has a specific action plan against it. And together, these have now been shown to save babies' lives.
‘This large-scale evaluation of the NHS England Saving Babies' Lives Care Bundle shows that the interventions to reduce cigarette smoking, detect small for gestational age babies, inform women about reduced fetal movements and improve monitoring of babies during labour, have been increasingly implemented in the early adopter maternity units. Over the same time period stillbirths have fallen by 20%, meaning 161 fewer stillbirths in the participating units.’ Professor Alex Heazell, Clinical Director of the Tommy’s Stillbirth Research Centre
The effects of the Saving Babies’ Lives Care Bundle meant thatthe proportion of women recorded as smoking at delivery reduced from 14.3% to 11.8%, detection of small for gestational age (SGA) babies increased from 34% to 54%, and units were more effective at monitoring the rates of babies’ growth in the womb and identifying when they are growing too slowly. This meant a number of other important changes in outcomes for women and their babies - including an increase in the number of ultrasound scans (by 25.7%), increases in induction of labour (by 19.4%) and birth by emergency caesarean section (by 9.5%).
‘We are delighted to have been part of an action plan that is making progress towards reducing the tragically high number of stillbirths that happen every year in the UK. When all maternity units follow these actions, fewer families will have to experience the tragedy of stillbirth which destroys so many families’ hopes and dreams.' Jane Brewin, Tommy’s CEO
In the UK, 9 babies are stillborn every day and Britain has the 24th worst stillbirth rate out of 49 high income countries within Europe. This causes untold devastation for the parents who lose their baby.
We look forward to seeing the learnings from this project put into action and the widespread implementation of the Saving Babies' Lives Care Bundle. There should also be a close examination of unintended consequences of implementing the actions in the bundle, particularly that births before 37 weeks gestation, known as preterm birth, increased by 6.5% in units who took part.
Clearblue partners with Tommy’s on Planning for Pregnancy
As women and men rarely talk to their doctor or other health professional before they start trying for a baby there is a low level of awareness about what they can do before they conceive to reduce risks to the pregnancy and baby and increase their chance of conception. The campaign aims to address this.
In 2018, Tommy’s and leading health organisations developed a digital Planning for Pregnancy tool to give families all the information they need to know before pregnancy.
The weight, diet and health of potential parents before conception can have overwhelming implications over the safety of the pregnancy, and the growth, development and long-term health of their children. For example:
• Folic acid should ideally be taken 2 months before conception to build the level of the vitamin up in the body to give maximum protection.
• Being overweight before and during pregnancy increases the risk of potentially dangerous pregnancy conditions, such as pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes.
• Smoking in pregnancy causes up to 2,200 premature births, 5,000 miscarriages and 300 perinatal deaths per year.
• Two thirds of maternal deaths happen in those with pre-existing mental health problems.
Deirdre de Barra, Head of Information at Tommy’s said: “Tommy’s goal is to reduce pregnancy loss and improve the safety of the mother and baby during pregnancy. We know that there are actions women and men can take before conception that will improve the health of their pregnancy and baby. However, reaching women with this information is not easy because it’s not something people bring up with health professionals unless they are having problems conceiving. Clearblue is talking to women about conception every day so it’s wonderful to have their support in getting this information out.”