Infant Journal
for neonatal and paediatric healthcare professionals

Finding Your Way campaign helps men devastated by baby loss reach out for support

A survey by Sands has revealed that almost a third (31%) of men who had suffered the trauma of a baby dying were not referred to a helpline or other sources of support.

The charity is warning that when men don't get the right kind of emotional support after the death of a baby they may struggle to cope with their grief and this can lead to ongoing mental health issues including suicidal thoughts.

On average, every 90 minutes in the UK a baby is stillborn or dies shortly after birth, but despite a string of high profile men speaking out about their own experience of pregnancy and baby loss, the subject is still a taboo for many.

The charity is urging everyone to play their part in breaking the silence on male baby loss with a digital awareness campaign - Finding Your Way - to help more bereaved dads, grandads, and any man touched by the death of a baby to reach out and seek support in a way that's right for them.

The social stereotype that men should be strong and bottle up their grief was revealed in the Sands survey as potentially stopping bereaved men getting the support they need.

Two thirds of all survey respondents agreed that it is more socially acceptable for women to talk about baby loss, with eight out of ten agreeing that the media's portrayal of the issue, and discussion on social media, tends to focus on the female experience.

However, in a positive indication of changing attitudes, one in five said they thought it was equally acceptable for men and women to talk about the issue and three quarters agreed that it is more socially acceptable today to talk about baby loss than in the past.

When asked about whether they were able to talk about their loss, one in five men said they needed to put on a strong front when talking with their partner about what had happened. One in ten men said they didn't want to talk about the bereavement with their partner at all.

Many dads surveyed said they felt that they had to be strong for the baby's mother, with more than half (54%) saying they felt it was their role to break the bad news about what had happened to other adult family members, and a similar proportion (49%) saying they took on this role in order to protect their partner.

When asked whether men and women deal with grief after the death of a baby differently almost everyone who responded to the survey (89%) agreed, and Sands is keen to encourage more men to seek support.

To get involved in the campaign visit the website.