The Duchess of Cambridge has met with families who experienced heart-breaking baby loss, including an inspirational woman who trained to be a midwife to help others after her daughter was stillborn.
Clare Worgan told Kate how the care she received after the loss of her baby Alice in 2016 inspired her to be there for those experiencing what she went through.
Kate, who carried out her visit to the National Centre for Miscarriage Research on Wednesday to mark Baby Loss Awareness Week, told her: “It’s so brave of you to be able to talk so openly.”
She added: “A lot of the research, a lot of the support for organisations, is being driven by parents who have been through this experience, and want to help others.
“It is so inspirational.”
Ms Worgan, 39, spoke to the duchess about her daughter, saying: “When she was born, she was absolutely perfect.
“Her birth was literally the best thing that ever happened to me. And also the worst thing that ever happened to me.”
She added: “A week after Alice’s funeral I decided I wanted to become a midwife, because the care I received was so amazing. I wanted to do what they had done for me.”
The former project manager for a civil engineer firm, who lives in Worthing, West Sussex, is now a bereavement specialist for Sands – the stillbirth and neonatal death charity – training health professionals how to help families deal with baby loss.
Kate was visiting the Institute of Reproductive and Development Biology at Imperial College London – which is part of the pioneering National Centre for Miscarriage Research, set up by the charity Tommy’s to work to reduce rates of miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth.
The duchess, wearing a floral face mask, put on a white lab coat featuring the Tommy’s logo to meet medical experts to hear about how they are working to understand the science behind baby loss in order to prevent it.
In the UK, one in four pregnancies end in loss during pregnancy or birth.
Each year, there are around 250,000 miscarriages and 11,000 ectopic pregnancies, while 3,000 babies are stillborn and 2,000 die shortly after birth.
The duchess was pictured looking through a microscope at cells from a reproductive tract.
Kate also spent time with parents who have been supported by Tommy’s and gone on to have rainbow babies, a baby born after a previous loss.
She was introduced to Obiele Laryea and Nii-Addy Addy who lost two babies in late pregnancy before coming to a Tommy’s clinic in London, where the team performed a cervical stitch operation that kept their now two-year-old son Tetteh-Kwei safe in the womb until he was old enough to survive.
Ms Laryea, who is now also 17 weeks pregnant, told Kate that when she was expecting again after her first miscarriage, her previous doctors initially refused her request to have a cervical stitch to prevent another one.
“Let’s wait and see,” they said. When they finally did, it was too late,” she said.
The 37-year-old said Kate was “quite thrown” that she was allowed to have a second miscarriage.
Ms Laryea said: “You could almost see it in her face, ‘Are you okay?’ I’m fine. I sometimes think to myself, if I hadn’t had the second miscarriage, I would not have heard about Tommy’s.”
Kate also met Sarah and Adam Carrick who had their first son Brodie in 2015, but then experienced four miscarriages in quick succession.
They were referred to Tommy’s and last year welcomed Ari, who was introduced to Kate.
Mrs Carrick, 26, a child minder from Tunbridge Wells, Kent, said of her miscarriages: “We were told it was bad luck.”
It was only when she went to Tommy’s she discovered that there was a link between emergency Caesareans – as she had with her first child – and later miscarriages.
Tommy’s chief executive Jane Brewin said: “Baby loss is often dismissed as ‘one of those things’ and something that ‘wasn’t meant to be’.
“This fatalistic attitude contributes to a failure to bring about change.”
The duchess was presented with a special Tommy’s candle, designed by Plum & Ashby, to allow her to take part in the global Wave of Light event to mark the end of Baby Loss Awareness Week at 7pm on Thursday.
Our lovely friend and supporter, Elle Wright has teamed up with luxury bath and body brand Plum & Ashby to create this beautiful candle, with 100% of profits being donated to our charity. ❤️
— Tommy's (@tommys) September 24, 2020
Candles will be lit across the world to remember all babies lost, and people can join in by sharing their candle on social media using #WaveOfLight.
Kate – mother to Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis – is patron of The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
She shadowed midwives and consultants at Kingston Hospital’s maternity unit in south-west London in 2019.