Anna is a reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Balloons released to remember lost babies

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To mark the end of Baby Loss Awareness Week women, men and children released balloons with messages to their lost babies at Rosebank Chapel on 9th Ave.

Stillbirth And Newborn Death Support (SANDS) national board committee member and Bay of Plenty co-ordinator Denise Coy said ending the week with a memorial service yesterday was to raise awareness of the issue and to remember the babies who had died.

"When you lose a child it's forever in your heart, and forever in your mind. The week is just to signify coming together worldwide."

"There are over 600 still births a year. That's not from miscarriages, it's from 20-weeks-old and over. It gets swept under the rug and our babies matter.

"To me, my daughter matters as much as my sons I have on Earth."

She said many parents and other New Zealanders found it difficult to talk about baby loss, but it was becoming more accepted and easier to discuss the topic.

"We're seeing a lot of people who say they lost their baby 30, 40, 50-years-ago, and are still carrying that grief. But things are changing and they can acknowledge the loss."

SANDS volunteers help bereaved parents by creating castings of the baby's hands and feet and placing the babies in cuddle cots, a task Ms Coy said was very rewarding and necessary.

"One couple who had lost their baby, I came in and dressed the baby, did the castings, and got a 3cm teddy. I wrapped the arms around the little teddy and lay the baby in the Moses basket. The parents cried and looked up and said to me, 'You've humanised our baby'."

On Saturday they held the International Wave of Light, where centres around the world lit up "Like a Mexican Wave of lights," Ms Coy said, where people lit a candle for an hour.

The Bethlehem Birthing Centre lit up with different colours.

"It was really nice of them to support us," Ms Coy said.

To find out more about SANDS and what they do, go to: www.sandsbop.co.nz

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