WHEN Josie Kenny went into labour at the end November 2014 she was full of anticipation and excitement about the birth of her first child. There were no problems throughout the pregnancy and she was full term.

Accompanied by members of her family, she set off from her home near Arley in the Wyre Forest for Worcestershire Royal Hospital and her husband Adam went straight from work to meet her there.

On arrival, staff in the Maternity Unit checked the baby’s heart beat but could not find any sign of life. They gave them the devastating news and two days later Josie delivered a stillborn baby.

Josie, aged 31, said: “I went into labour on Thursday and went to hospital and they checked the baby’s heart beat and they said there wasn’t one. Everything was OK throughout the pregnancy so it came as a complete shock.

“I could feel him moving a couple of days before and on the Wednesday I didn’t feel anything. At the time I didn’t think anything of it.” The post mortem failed to reveal why the baby died.

As the shattering news sank in, Josie said the staff at the Maternity Unit were wonderful. “You have to deliver your baby which is really hard. Some people have lost babies at 22, 24 and 26 weeks. They still go on to deliver because the body has to do it.

“I was adamant I really wanted to deliver him. My body had started the process and it was really hard and it was a long labour. The staff were brilliant and the midwife knew just what to do.

“You go through the same process of giving birth and afterwards they ask you if you want to hold the baby. They are really respectful.”

They also took a photograph of the baby for Josie and Adam to place in a memory box with other things like a foot print and a hand print. Josie added that the memory box had really helped in dealing with what happened.

“The people at the hospital are really caring and check on the mental well-being as well as the physical. They were very understanding. Even the ladies who delivered our lunches were caring. They were caring and understanding and supportive. The bereavement midwife was wonderful.”

Josie explained that parents who have lost little ones can stay in a special bereavement suit called the Fay Turner Suit.

“I wanted to come home and when I got home I fainted and hit my head and I had to go back to hospital. I stayed in the Fay Turner suite. I just wanted to come home basically and get on with things.

“In hindsight I should have stayed for longer. In hospital there are people there to talk to and help.”

The hospital directed Josie and Adam to a charity called Towards Tomorrow Together which is dedicated to helping parents who have lost a baby or had to end a pregnancy for medical reasons.

“There are lots of stillborn babies. More than people realise. It is unspoken about,” said Josie. “Coming home it was horrible. It felt empty. All the cards you have and the flowers you have are for very different reasons.

“Adam took paternity leave and was off until Christmas. He needed the time off as well. I am really pleased he did. The fathers do not tend to talk about it.”

Josie said the charity really helped her with the grieving process. She attended support groups and also went for counselling at The Cedar Tree in Angel Place – another charity specialising in pregnancy and birth issues.

She said: “The hospital was fabulous and there is support through the charity and it is free. It can be such a lonely time. It is important not to be alone because it is when things can get out of control.”

Josie and Adam wanted to try for another baby but waited for nearly a year. “A lot of women want to try again straight away. It took me about a year. I know some people will fall pregnant within six months and they have struggled quite a bit because it is so close to the last one. Your body tells you when you are ready,” she said.

Once Josie became pregnant, she and Adam had no doubt about going back to Worcestershire Royal Hospital. “Because they were so brilliant in delivery with our little boy, we wanted to go back to the same hospital,” said Josie.

She was referred to a consultant at the hospital as soon as she became pregnant again. “We saw the consultant lots of time and you have far more scans. I saw the local midwife every week and you can have as much contact as you want.

“After 24 weeks I had cardiotocographs where you are monitored and the heart is monitored. They say ‘Have as many as you need’.

“The support was just phenomenal. It was brilliant not just for me but for Adam as well. They were always asking about him,” said Josie.

“I did not think we would feel completely reassured but I was more reassured because of what they were doing. I did not want to waste their time but they encouraged me to go in more to put my mind at rest.

“From the off they said to have it at 38 weeks to avoid the period when he (first child) had died. I was really anxious. I kept thinking was it going to be a day too late - even on the day I went in to be induced. The midwife was explaining what was going to happen. She could see I was anxious. I said I just wanted to hear the heartbeat.”

In fact Josie went into hospital to be induced after 37 weeks and little Ella arrived on June 13 this year. “I discussed it with the bereavement nurse and having her at 37 weeks was not going to make any difference to her development.

“The day I gave birth to Ella they did not leave my side. Normally they are in and out. There was someone there all the time. I felt really relieved. I said I just want her to cry when she comes out.

“We were ecstatic when she arrived. Even then they were checking the heartbeat. We wanted to come home but they found a ward where Adam could stay.

“After Ella was delivered, the consultant came in several times to see how Ella was progressing and the same with the bereavement midwife and I am still in touch with her.

“We were still anxious when we brought her home. We did not know what we were doing and you read different things. Adam was constantly at her crib and checking she was breathing.”

Trudy Berlet, bereavement support midwife at Worcestershire Royal Hospital, said: “Sadly when a family has experienced the loss of a baby, they realise that not everybody goes home with a live baby. This can make a future pregnancy a worrying or stressful time.

“Families face many different emotions and anxieties at different stages of the pregnancy, therefore the care we try to provide in a subsequent pregnancy is individual to each family and planned as the pregnancy progresses.

“Families often can’t let themselves imagine being able to take a live baby home in their arms. But as the bereavement support midwife I provide support during a subsequent pregnancy, listening to families’ fears and anxieties and as a team we plan their care to provide as much reassurance and support as we can.”