Amanda Holden launches appeal to fund stillbirth counsellors for maternity wards

TV presenter Amanda Holden has launched an appeal for specialist bereavement counsellors to be available on all British maternity wards.

To mark Baby Loss Awareness Week, the 47-year-old is asking people to help her raise funds for the project.

Holden’s campaign is called Theo’s Hope – in honour of her son who was stillborn at seven months in 2011.

Appealing for people to donate to the cause, she wrote: “3,430 babies are stillborn every year, with half of the tragedies totally unexplained – as in Theo’s case.

“Parents, like me, are left to agonise about what went wrong and if it could happen again.

“Not having the support of a counsellor, or family nearby, can have desperate consequences, leading to depression, panic attacks and in some cases suicidal thoughts.

“I was lucky, and had fantastic care through the NHS, and through friends and family, but not everyone is so lucky.

“Most parents are left struggling to cope with their feelings, not knowing who to turn to, with no access to bereavement counselling or long waiting lists that leave them isolated with their grief.”

Initially the appeal aims to raise £100,000 to fund one full-time counsellor for two years at Tommy’s Stillbirth Research Centre at St Mary’s Hospital in Manchester, with the aim of rolling it out across the NHS in the future.

Holden added: “Fewer than half of all UK maternity centres have specialist midwives trained to help bereaved parents. We need to change that.

“There is never a ‘cure’ for the pain of losing your baby, but you can be healed in a way that lets you get on with your life.”

Jane Brewin, chief executive of the baby loss charity Tommy’s, said: “Many parents need support when their baby dies, but not everyone gets the support they need and that can make a devastating situation so much worse.

“Whilst no-one ever gets over the loss of their baby, being able to cope with the grief and being able to function is important both in the short and medium term.

“Grieving parents are more susceptible to marriage breakdowns, mental health problems, loss of employment, and their other children suffer too.

“If we can provide more evidence about why support is helpful for parents, we will convince more health service commissioners to make that help available.

“Amanda’s campaign in memory of Theo is an important step towards giving every parent the help they need.”

Holden has two daughters with husband Chris Hughes – Hollie, 12, and six-year-old Lexi.

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