The idea of registering the Stillbirth Society of India was conceived by me about a year ago and registered on 11 Feb 2021. It is the first registered society in India and is affiliated with the International Stillbirth Alliance.
I can recount a few experiences which define for me the many facets of the problem of stillbirths in India.
As a senior resident walking into the labor room I heard a ward attendant telling a bereaved father waiting for his stillborn to be handed over to the family saying—look the labor room is very busy, should I worry about the live babies or should I waste time in handing over your dead baby?
I realized the complete lack of empathy and dignity in death.
The second incident I remember is when one of my patients was sent for a confirmatory sonography for an IUFD—the sonologist did not tell her about the fetal death but asked her to rush back to me as the baby is not well. She came rushing back in the hope that the baby was in danger and could be saved.
The complete lack of training in breaking bad news and dealing with grief in healthcare workers hit me then.
Lastly, I remember a lady with previous 2 stillbirths who came to us
with her 3rd pregnancy which was again an IUFD. She delivered and after
delivery, we encouraged her relatives to allow her to hold the baby—the
usual practice in India is that the mother is not informed about the
stillbirth nor encouraged to hold the baby. The reaction of the mother
was priceless—ma’am even after delivering two babies I never felt like a
mother. Though I will not be taking my baby home, but I felt like a
I realized the absolute lack of training of healthcare workers bereavement care.
The Lancet series of articles highlighting the enormity of the problem helped me focus on doing something concrete. Two other JNMC alumnae —Dr Asna Ashraf and Dr Ayesha Ahmad who shared my passion helped prepare the documents crystalising our vision, mission, and objectives statements. Prof Shipra Kunwar, Dr Deepika Sinha, Dr Nafis Fatima, and Dr Bushra Fatima were also enthusiastic about this initiative and were among the 7 founding members of the society. Dr Asna Ashraf got the Society registered and affiliated to the International Stillbirth Alliance. Prof Neelam Agarwal from PGI, Chandigarh, already working with International Stillbirth Alliance on the Parents Voice Initiative, agreed to take over the leadership and guidance role as the first President of the society. Dr Nuzhat Aziz from Fernandez Hospital, working passionately for improving intrapartum quality of care for prevention of stillbirths, very kindly agreed to be our Vice President. The society shall ever be grateful to them for this. I would also like to thank our patrons Dr Pratima Mittal and Dr Evita Fernandez, international and national experts, committee chairs, and secretaries for agreeing to contribute with their expertise, experience, and passion in this humble but noble endeavour.
Dr. Tamkin Khan
Losing a baby is the most devastating experience for a mother and her family. If you are wondering how to move on in life and going through anxiety, denial, anger, and depression after a stillbirth contact us for help and support