Baby loss: “Neglected, marginalised and stigmatised”

How this JG crowdfunded film project is raising awareness about pregnancy and infant loss

JustGiving
Oct 14, 2015 · 5 min read

Louka Travlos

Photograph: Big Buddha Films

“We must break the silence around baby loss.” Debbie Howard, documentary film-maker

Today— Thursday 15th October — is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.

Every day, 17 babies in the UK are stillborn or die shortly after birth. As many as 16% of pregnancies in the US end in still birth or miscarriage. It is an issue that affects around 6,200 families a year in the UK, and yet Richard Horton — Editor-in-Chief of the Lancet medical journal calls it,

“One of the most neglected, marginalised, stigmatised issues in global health today.”

  • What can be done to ensure this tragic issue is not overlooked?
  • How can we bring comfort and support to the families who have been affected?

These are the questions that Debbie Howard aims to answer in her film Still Loved, a documentary covering the issue of baby loss. Now she is crowdfunding to ensure the film is screened as widely as possible. You can support her project and read more about it in Debbie’s own words.

What is your project?

Still Loved is the first ever feature length documentary showing how families survive the loss of a baby. We are raising money for the exhibition of the film so that as many people as possible can see it worldwide. We would also like to make a shortened version for television broadcast.

“This is not a film about mothers sitting around weeping. Our participants are dynamic, brave and engaging.”

Photograph: Big Buddha Films

Why is this so important?

Every year several thousands of families are torn apart by stillbirth & neonatal death and yet its not something people talk about, or even imagine happening.

Photograph: Big Buddha Films

During the past six years I have built close relationships with many families who have lost babies. I have discovered how much of a taboo talking about stillbirth is, and how this impedes the healing of the families involved.

I am passionate about telling these stories and challenging the taboo of talking about stillbirth. This documentary breaks the silence and uncovers the truth about how both men and women deal with this tragedy.

“What parents and families need most,” says Debbie, “is an opportunity to share their stories and hear those of others whom have experienced a similar loss.”

What’s the film about?

This film gives a voice to bereaved families and tells their stories in an unexpected, frank and at times surprisingly humorous way. It also offers hope and will help others to really understand how to help when someone loses a baby.

“When your baby dies, it is a cruel and devastating loss. Often there has been little time to get to know your child, to create cherished memories, to have anything to look back on as good times: times and memories that could give some comfort. It is total emptiness.” Carolyn Bray, SANDS

Photograph: Big Buddha Films

I look closely at the role of the fathers, who can feel marginalized when a baby dies. In Still Loved the dads speak candidly about losing their baby and about the way our culture and society expects men to handle this.

Photograph: Big Buddha Films

Pregnancy loss doesn’t just affect the parents, but the siblings and extended family, friends, colleagues & medical staff. I had met courageous, humorous and generous people and desperately wanted to share their stories with others.

Photograph: Big Buddha Films

How will crowdfunding help?

We could not have got this far without people supporting us via crowdfunding in the past. The film is now finished but we need support to get through this last phase of the process, getting the film out to audiences.

We want the film to be shown as widely as possible: in cinemas, on TV, online, in community centres, baby loss support groups and for groups of midwives and healthcare professionals.

What’s next for the project?

We are screening Still Loved on Thursday 15th October, Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day. At 7pm around the world people will light candles for every child and family who have been affected by child loss, creating a Wave of Light across the world. After that, we hope to tour film festivals and hold international cinema screenings.

Photograph: Big Buddha Films

How can people support you?

If you believe this is an important issue and would like to see the film screened more widely, please visit our JustGiving page and donate.

Photograph: Big Buddha Films

Like the article? Recommend. Share. Start crowdfunding!

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