Child of Mine, a documentary filmed at UCLH 

18/10/2018 00:00 
Child of Mine, the critically acclaimed documentary made at UCLH, will be showing on Channel 4 tonight at 10pm.
 

Filmed over two years at UCLH and the Rosie Hospital in Cambridge, the documentary directed by Katie Rice sensitively follows three couples’ personal experience of losing a child before birth, bringing this tragic topic to the fore and exposing the very real crisis of stillbirth in the UK.

Both UCLH and The Rosie are tertiary referral hospitals, with special expertise in dealing with high risk pregnancy. Few hospitals have this specialty, despite the fact that 1 in every 200 babies in the UK is stillborn, and the UK has one of the highest rates of stillbirth in the developed world.

These hidden bereavements are rarely talked about, often leaving parents isolated and alone. The couples in the film reflect on their experiences with incredible honesty revealing the devastating impact on parents, whilst highlighting the urgent need for more dedicated resources across the NHS to help combat the current crisis and examples of best practice from the hospital teams whose bereavement support is vital in enabling mothers and their partners to recover and see a future.

Vicki and Bruce were thrilled when Vicki became pregnant. But at six months Vicki felt their daughter, Ruby, was not moving as much as she had been. We meet the couple at the start of the most difficult journey a new parent never thinks they will have to face; they are told Ruby’s heart has stopped beating. It’s best for Vicki’s health to give birth to her baby naturally, and the film follows the couple through their heartbreak as they try to adapt to their ‘new normal’ without Ruby. As she grieves Vicki reflects, “If 1 in 200 two-year olds died every year they would do something about it because they’re out in the physical world…but because she was in my womb and not in the outside world it doesn’t matter.” With the ongoing support of the bereavement team at the Rosie Hospital and the baby loss counselling charity Petals, Vicki and Bruce are forced into traumatic unknown territory that puts increasing pressure on their relationship.

After 11 years together, Fiona and Niall finally decided to start a family. But their dreams were cut short when, in October 2016, their daughter Matilda was stillborn at 41 weeks. After grieving this terrible loss and receiving counselling and support from UCLH in the months that followed, the couple were delighted when they became pregnant again. “It’s really difficult for us because the way things changed with Matilda changed really quickly,” says Fiona, “we did have a scan the day before and she died overnight…a key thing for me is just making sure that I’m feeling movement all the time.” As they are supported and monitored through their subsequent pregnancy by UCLH consultant obstetrician Dr Melissa Whitten, Fiona and Niall must navigate through the uncertainty and try to stay positive, as they grieve for what was lost, and look to the future.

Originally from New Zealand Kezia and Chris moved to the UK for work and a life full of adventure and travel. They were also keen to start a family. Through IVF they were delighted to find out they were pregnant, but even more thrilled to discover they were expecting twins. Twins are more complicated than single pregnancies, and when the couple are told that one of their twins is worryingly small, they feel completely in limbo. “Do you grieve, or do you celebrate,” asks Kezia, “it’s bizarre, it’s like a nightmare you wish you were going to wake up from.”

Brian Woods, Executive Producer, True Vision, said: “We made this film because it was clear that there is a still a significant taboo around stillbirth. As a result parents suffer alone. Family, friends and sometimes healthcare professionals, don’t know what to say, and so say nothing. We hoped to find couples willing to allow us to share their experience. With the help of the wonderful staff at UCLH and the Rosie, we were able to win the trust of three extraordinary couples, who let us go with them every step of the way, and reflected on their experience with incredible insight and clarity. I hope this film not only helps to lift the taboo, but also encourages more funding to be channelled into research to prevent stillbirth, and persuades every maternity hospital that they must have a bereavement midwife on the team.”

With the government committed to halving rates of stillbirth, the urgent need for more investment and research is clear and, said Prof. Gordon Smith, Head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Cambridge, one of the mechanisms to achieve this is to raise the profile of the condition by talking about it; “the thing I find mystifying isn’t the increase in understanding of stillbirth now,” he continues, “it’s how could it possibly have been not discussed 15 or 20 years ago.”

For some of the media coverage, please go here.

Child of Mine, Channel 4, 10pm.

 

 

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