In recognition . . . Miscarriage Matters volunteer Renee Rowland delivers care pouches around South Canterbury to support those who experienced miscarriages. PHOTO: HELEN HOLT

This week is Baby Loss Awareness Week, to acknowledge miscarriages, stillbirths and neonatal deaths. To mark it, reporter Helen Holt talked to South Canterbury volunteer Renee Rowland, who delivers care packs on behalf of Miscarriage Matters New Zealand.

by Helen Holt

Renee Rowland says it is important for those who have lost a child to feel supported.

Ms Rowland delivers care packs to medical practices from Timaru to Twizel as the South Canterbury representative of Miscarriage Matters .

The packs include goodies such as chocolate and lipstick, and information on where to get support.

“It’s a token of recognition. It’s important for them to feel acknowledged and supported.

“We always have a handwritten card, and the website information on where to get support.”

Miscarriage Matters is a Canterbury-wide voluntary organisation which provides information and support to those who have experienced a miscarriage.

The packs are assembled by committee members, and the items are donated.

Ms Rowland hoped that Baby Loss Awareness Week would help people talk about miscarriage, which affects 1-2 out of every 10 pregnant women.

“Hopefully it will encourage them to reach out, and know that there are resources out there.”

Miscarriage Matters was started by two women in Rangiora in 2019.

Ms Rowland joined the organisation in 2021 after reading about it in Latitude magazine.

“I heard about what they do and I wanted to help. I also wanted to extend the reach beyond just North Canterbury.

“We hope to expand it to the rest of the country, but we need to build the momentum.”

She said she wanted to help, after her own experiences.

“I have experienced multiple miscarriages. I was baffled at the lack of support for an issue that is so common but no-one talks about.

“I understand that doctors and nurses are busy, but the experience just felt very clinical.”

She said there was not sufficient support for miscarriage.

“Nothing was happening. It can be a really emotional time for them and often they aren’t given any emotional care.

“Apart from a medical professional telling them they lost the baby, and then just sending them on their way.”

She said apart from Sands (which mainly supports stillbirth and neonatal deaths) there was not an organisation primarily for those who had experienced miscarriages, before Miscarriage Matters was started up.

Ms Rowland said the care packs were well received by medical professionals.

“I’ve had some nurses who were surprised to receive them. I think they appreciated how it would help their patients.

“I’m keen to help other women and their family to feel empowered and supported in a tough time.”