Book Review by Michelle Every
“Why baby loss matters”, by Kay King, is available from Pinter and Martin for £8.99
I had a personal interest in reading this book as Kay was my mentee a long time ago and someone who supported families locally to me. She attended my workshop ‘Supporting Every Birth’ which explores supporting clients through loss. I am so grateful to Kay for writing this book and adding this subject to the “Why It Matters” series.
The title was one that I wholeheartedly agree with. Baby loss matters. Each individual story matters.
I have been supporting families through baby loss for 18 years. I volunteered with The Miscarriage Association for 15 years and as a doula I offered my services to those experiencing loss and to those who were pregnant after a previous loss.
Supporting loss has been a huge part of my life.
So it was with these years of experience and compassion that I read Kay’s book.
I read the book intentionally in one sitting. I carved out a day and mindfully read each chapter. I am glad I did it this way as I appreciated the flow from one chapter to the next. The topics were in a helpful order and the content deeply meaningful. The choice of the chapter headings were useful and made sense to me. You could choose to dip in and out of the book as there is a helpful index at the back but it is not a quick or light read. This book deserves attention, commitment and time.
I appreciated Kay’s bio with her photo. She shares that she is a doula and birth activist and Grief Recovery Method specialist. She adds an author’s note sharing the choices she made around using inclusive language and incorporating all types of loss. This may make this book difficult to read for some bereaved families so it is appropriate to have such an explanation before the book begins.
This leads nicely into her introduction where she shares her hopes for the book. Her passion to put loss into conversations, to validate people’s loss stories, for excellent care, support and respectful exchange sings out. This book was written after Kay listened to 190 bereaved families. Their stories helped to shape the content and message.
In her introduction, Kay addresses the bereaved parent, saying, “I hope this book offers you the chance to remember your child, to reconnect to the hopes and expectations that you had for the life ahead of them….I hope you feel recognised and less alone”
She addresses birth workers saying “I hope that this book acts to remind us, as birth workers, that loss is part of what we sign up to when we come to this precious and priviledged work of holding space for women.”
And she expresses a third hope for the book “I hope this book amplifies the incredible work of organisations and services that strive every day to support the needs of those living with loss.”
As the book unfolds Kay speaks to the bereaved (“I see you”) and at other times to the birth worker (“What matters is that we keep showing up.”) As I read through the book I wondered if two books would have been helpful – “Why baby loss matters” for the families and “Why baby loss matters to birth workers”. The interchanging focus on parent and birth worker could become a distraction or hindrance to the message being conveyed. I would be interested to hear the views of those who have suffered loss or birth workers. Would they appreciate a book dedicated to them?
The chapters contain information, explanations, advice and case studies where parents share their own stories. This format works well.
The different types of loss are explored, the support that can be accessed is shared and the message of you matter and your baby loss matters threads throughout each page.
I was delighted to see that Kay speaks about the 4th trimester as many who experience baby loss do not feel permission to consider it. Kay addresses this beautifully. Personally I found the ‘What to do’ lists in this chapter a little too directive but the compassion with which it is shared is evident.
There is a useful list of resources and organisations at the back of the book for further support and learning.
I am glad I invested time in reading this book. The content was familiar but it was written in a refreshing way that focused on the importance of seeing, hearing and supporting those who experience baby loss. My own story was validated.
Michelle Every is the mentor facilitator for Nurturing Birth. She wrote and facilitates Supporting Every Birth, a workshop exploring baby loss. She is married, has five kids and is looking forward to becoming a Nonna early next year.
Her favourite place is swimming in the sea.