Seminar: Baby Loss - the Melancholy Void (9th February) - slides and recording now available
7th March 2022
Slides from the seminar are available here.
A recording of the presentation is available on our youtube channel.
CFJ Lunchtime Seminar: Baby Loss - the Melancholy Void
Professor Hedy Cleaver and Wendy Rose OBE
Date/time Wednesday 9th February 1-2pm
Details: Miscarriage and stillbirth are not rare events and losing a baby at any stage may have an overwhelming and long-term impact on parents, existing and subsequent children, and on wider family. Potential parents’ feelings of devastation, intense grief, anxiety, guilt and self-blame, and loss following such a death have been identified in literature written over past centuries. Fifty years ago miscarriage and stillbirth were a private matter and unspoken of, leaving parents to manage their grief alone. The presentation focuses on the changes in attitudes and the support available to those who have experienced miscarriage and perinatal death.
A review of relevant research, policy and practice identified significant advances in medical science and major changes to the law; these together with wider societal changes have influenced attitudes to abortion, same sex parenthood, and single mothers. Medical advances have made childbirth safer and the use of IVF has extended the opportunity of motherhood to a wider group of women. The campaigning of numerous charities has led to far greater understanding of the impact of baby loss on parental mental health and parenting capacity. Their work in conjunction with the NHS has resulted in greater information and support being provided to grieving parents within both hospital and community settings, and in Government commitment to providing high quality bereavement care. However, there are still issues of concern where improvement is urgently needed, including significant health inequalities in maternal outcomes and the level of access to services for all family members.
About the speakers:
Hedy Cleaver is Professor Emeritus at Royal Holloway College, University of London. Her experience as a social worker and child psychologist informs her research on vulnerable children and their families and the impact of professional interventions. The guiding principle underpinning her work is a desire to improve the quality of life for children living in circumstances that place them at risk of abuse and neglect.
Findings from her research have influenced UK policy in respect to children and families for over 35 years. Recent research includes the 2020 Triennial Analysis of Serious Case Reviews, Safeguarding Children living with Foster Carers, Adopters and Special Guardians (2020) and Growing up with Domestic Abuse: supporting children adopted, fostered or in kinship care (forthcoming). Another stream of research, co-authored with Wendy Rose, has focused on baby loss and the support available for grieving parents (2018 & 2021).
Wendy Rose OBE has worked predominantly in policy development and research in relation to children and families. As Assistant Chief Inspector for Children’s Services, she led a team of senior social work policy advisers in the Department of Health for eleven years, including working on the Children Act 1989 and its subsequent implementation. She has been a Senior Research Fellow at the Open University and Honorary Research Fellow at Cardiff University, and an adviser to the Scottish and Welsh Governments. She has published widely, most recently on poverty and its impact on parenting (2019) and has worked with Hedy Cleaver on Safeguarding Children living with Foster Carers, Adopters and Special Guardians (2020) and Growing up with Domestic Abuse (forthcoming) as well as research on baby loss (2018 & 2021).