South Asian Communities

Spice FM Radio Interview

Amneet, Founder and Chair, talks with Spice FM about some of the challenges around baby loss for South Asian communities – hoping to help normalise conversation around this topic.

South Asian Baby Loss Mini Series

We are starting a new mini series about South Asian baby loss – with real stories from people who identify with these communities.

These stories are anonymous to protect and respect our contributors. We hope that by sharing these stories we can raise awareness of some of the issues facing the South Asian communities, and we can help normalise conversation about this topic, breaking taboos.

On Twitter will be using #SouthAsianBabyLoss with these posts.

If you have a story to share about your experience, please get in touch at hello@willowsrainbowbox.co.uk.

Story One

My first miscarriage was when I was 26 years old. I was pregnant with twins. I know this as I had bleeding early in the pregnancy and had to have a scan. At 13 weeks I had bleeding for which I was advised to attend hospital. My husband worked in the family restaurant business and had gone to open up. I lived with extended family and went to the hospital alone. After scan and test which could all morning I was informed by a consultant that’s it’s likely that I am having a miscarriage. The consultant was worried with the amount that I was bleeding that they admitted me to a ward. I called my husband to inform him and he said he’d call back. He called back soon after and said that he was unable to attend as we had guests from Birmingham at home and it doesn’t look good if he ask his brother to take over the restaurant and be at the hospital with me. My family had informed the guests that I was working (I’m a qualified nurse). He said there would be questions asked if there was no male at gone to attend guests that would like an alcoholic drink and someone needed to go pick up the food that had been ordered for the guests.

Entertaining guests was seen a more important than ensuring I had support at the hospital whilst loosing a child. Another thing not understood by me was the elders in the family did not see this as a child…they couldn’t see why this was upsetting as it was something I never had and god didn’t want me to have it. This drove and still does drive me absolutely mad. I was expected to keep this to myself and not talk about it.

After my 4th miscarriage I was bleeding so much that I collapsed due to iron deficiency regularly. My grandad passed away from cancer at the time (my nana) I was too ill I could not attend the funeral as I was collapsing and I was susceptible to being taken over my spirits during the funeral my mother in law called my bibi and said I wasn’t well and wouldn’t attend. OMG I was so upset.

After my 9th one my consultant actually got so upset and called my husband and told him I was carrying and lost a male baby. She went absolutely mad at him and told him that He should have been there for me by my side not at work especially as he works in a family business and we are not short of money at all. This was the first time I feel like it affected my husband emotionally (or at least the first time I seen him emotional about losing) again family did not even ask me if I was ok or not, how I was feeling I was expected is to join in Lori celebrations the week after loosing. Again I attended and joined in the thuni ceremony bleeding my way all the way round again hiding my emotions.

My last miscarriage was 7 weeks ago. Long story short I didn’t know I was pregnant. I attended the appointments all alone as my husband was out of city working on property that was purchased with his dad (again something that could have been put on hold) I did tell him that night that I was loosing and it’s probably the first time that he said I had turned to stone and I wasn’t emotionally affected by this. I completely broke down and told him exactly what I had been through for every single admission to hospital. I told him all dates of miscarriage and how old each child would have been by that date. It’s the first time that he said he realised that my lack of opening up and coldness to any emotion is his causing.

I’ve learned to hide and block emotions so much because nothing is talked about in our community everything is hidden and lied about. Our community see a miscarriage as something that was never yours so why bother getting upset about it. This experience has caused me to totally loose faith in god. Ive asked that many religious people why things like miscarriage happen. They response is always to teach me something, but this has taught me nothing of value. The other reason said to me is to teach me. Lesson for my past sins in this life and my past life.

Story Two

I’m a 44 year old British Indian (Punjabi) lady. Here is my story of loss and hope.

I got married at 19 in 1995. ln ’96 I got pregnant with first baby. The pregnancy was going well – being so young you don’t know any different.

One day, at 26 weeks, I was at an appointment with my midwife it was going well till she tried listening to baby’s heartbeat, she couldn’t find it. I didn’t even understand why she was so worried – she gave me a letter telling me to go straight to the hospital. I walked out of her room alone my mum was waiting in the waiting room, I think she met me there. Anyway I explained to her what had happened and together we walked to my parents house. I called my husband at work and he came to mum’s and together we went in a taxi to hospital. A scan revealed our baby a little girl had died. My husband waited in the waiting area he refused to come in with me. I was sent home and told to come back the next day.

The next we went back, although my husband was with me he spent most of the time leaving the room when midwives were there. Labour was started and the next day I delivered a little girl tiny but perfect.

We gave her a name (it was mostly me that wanted to do that). My husband had just seen it as why does she need a name? We had a funeral for her and again some family were saying ‘we should just leave her at the hospital and let them deal with it’.

Family would phone, more as a formality rather than actually caring. Slowly things were sort of returning to normal (sort of) but hubby would always change the subject when I wanted to talk about it saying she didn’t belong to us..

Then in ’98 I got pregnant again. I was at an appointment at the hospital when my BP was very high I was kept in after few days as it was still high..it was then decided I would have an emergency C-section. I was only 26 weeks and my daughter only weighed 1 pound – she’s just about to start her Master’s.

In 2009 I fell pregnant again, everything was going well and hospital were monitoring me. One day at nearly 27 weeks I had the most awful headache. I suffer from migraines but this was different I got ready and went to my dr’s she checked my BP and called an ambulance. I was scared yea but I thought I’ve had one prem baby and I’ve already lost one surely it can’t happen again! (Little did I know.)

Once again my BP wouldn’t settle. I was given so many different medicines to control it, but nothing. After being in hospital for two weeks and my mum looking after my daughter, it was decided I would have a section in the morning, but there were no beds in special care for my baby!!!

I was moved to a hospital in Leicester (we were living in Coventry- at the time.)

As far as I was concerned, I was there to have my section but the consultant there kept saying my baby was comparising and he wouldn’t do a section yet, although I was poorly but still kept telling the Dr to to my section he wouldn’t listen. They kept monitoring me and one day the nurse came to check on me but she couldn’t find a heartbeat – my baby a little girl couldn’t hold on anymore!!

The consultant came to see me and in his words, ‘I should have done the c- section when you came’. l was then sent back to Coventry, in their words ‘they can deal with you now.’ I will never forget those words & these are from people who are supposed to care!!

Once back, I was told that I would have to wait for labour to start naturally – doing a section was too dangerous as was starting me off…I was given a room where my husband was allowed to stay but he refused. He would come during the day then go, leaving me alone. My little girl was born 12 days later, she was slightly bruised because of the amount of time that had passed. During this (the days before I had her) I was told to go home and carry on with ‘normal life’ as this brings on labour I refused. I’m glad I did as it only took about 15 minutes for baby to be born. I phoned my husband telling him I thought the baby would be born soon…his reply I’ll come later I gave alone..he came afterwards stayed few minutes and went home. I was alone again.

This time I didn’t give her a name; we just called her baby Kaur. 💟

We had a funeral. This time I didn’t attend as I didn’t feel strong enough. My hubby, his mum came from India and my parents went…my baby was buried along with her sister I take comfort knowing they are together and thankful I was able to do that. There were/are so many times I wanted to visit my babies at the cemetery but hubby refused saying I don’t need to go to ‘places like that’ I’ve only ever been twice!!

I had to listen to family, telling me I was weak and couldn’t carry a baby full term or it’s probably because I didn’t eat properly! Some saying it was good I didn’t give her a name!!

Some saying it’s ok next time it will be a boy!! I would get angry/annoyed with people but hubby couldn’t understand – he saw it as they aren’t saying nothing wrong… my faith was really tested I refused to go to the Gurdwara. I couldn’t understand.

Story Three

I had a healthy first pregnancy with my first son, however when I fell pregnant with my second child, I had a miscarriage at 7 weeks, which was very upsetting. I then became pregnant with my third child, my rainbow baby, a second boy. However, during the whole pregnancy, I was so anxious and worried about miscarriage that it did not make the pregnancy enjoyable and is one of the many reasons that I will not try for another child as mentally it was challenging. It would have been good to have more support out there!

I think that there needs to be more openness to freely discuss miscarriage. I told people before the 12 week mark and always remember my mother in law saying to me that I shouldn’t have said anything so in a strange way made me feel as though somehow I contributed to the miscarriage by speaking about the pregnancy before 12 weeks. It’s a strange feeling and I know its completely not the case but it’s just a feeling. I guess there should be more conversations to be able to discuss miscarriage freely.

Story Four

In 2013 aged 37 I was pregnant, I had two girls already but I had also lost two girls to stillbirth one at 26 weeks and another at nearly 27 weeks (the first in 1996 & the other in 2000).

As you can imagine I was both excited and scared, scared of losing another baby.

Then at my first scan I found out my baby was very poorly, I was alone as my husband refused to come with me.. I had to have test after test (not all on that day) as the weeks passed more tests were done but each one came with more news..

At 18 weeks we found I was carrying a little boy, but he was very poorly. He had Down’s Syndrome – his heart was too big and a valve was leaking and his brain wasn’t growing. These were just some of the things going on with him. We were told he was dying and wouldn’t survive the rest of the pregnancy or would die during delivery..no matter how many tests we had none brought us any hope..during his scans he would just lie there with no movement.

The best thing we could do for him was letting him go… let him rest.

So on the 11 of April 2013 I went into hospital with my sister at my side (hubby refused) to have my son. As I was 18 weeks I was induced and the same evening he came into the world tiny but perfect.

Before, we had asked the Midwives what would happen to him afterwards. We were told we could either do the funeral ourselves or let the hospital take care of it…

I really wanted us to do it as I felt we owed him that much but hubby said it’s best we let the hospital take care of it (cause we’d already buried two babies and he couldn’t face doing that again!). I totally get that but I felt we had to do this for baby, but at the same time I didn’t have the energy to argue with him.

The only thing with letting the hospital take care of the funeral is they wait and a few babies are cremated together. We lost our baby in April but his funeral didn’t happen till June..I felt so guilty and still do that he was just lying there for so long.

At the time we were told there would be no ashes, so I didn’t question it any further but a few years later it was in the papers and on the news that some baby’s ashes were still being held at the hospital.. it was awful I really wanted to know about my son’s ashes, I spoke to my hubby but he said don’t do nothing leave it be.

But I needed answers so while he went away I set about finding out. After lots of phone calls and e-mails i was told my son’s ashes had been scattered, it was like grieving all over again but at the same time I was happy he has a resting place.

I told him but he wasn’t really bothered.. I’ve only been to visit my son once at his forever bed as hubby won’t allow it.. I called him baby Singh.

I’ve since had three early miscarriages and two operations.

In 2017 aged 41 I had my son he’s 3 now and started nursery last week. 🙏

He’s given my world the balance it needed, and taught me that things only happen when they are meant to.

I wanted to tell you about him as I want to offer hope to anyone reading this.

Story Five

I have stage 4 endometriosis, so getting pregnant was never going to be a smooth ride. I fell pregnant through IVF, which again can’t be discussed so no one other then my mother-in-law knows.

I miscarried at 14 weeks, two days before my birthday. I experienced the worst kind of pain and bleeding… the hospital sent me home saying to take paracetamol.

The only medical support I got was from my GP. Hospital wasn’t interested, and all I got from family was, ‘Never mind be strong at least you can get pregnant.’

I just didn’t know who to turn to it talk to as it made people uncomfortable.

Ironically, I fell pregnant on the round in the month I should have given birth. So my daughter is my rainbow and miracle baby.