British Columbia

Better stillbirth help for families needed, says B.C. woman

Five years ago, Jamie Ascher held her stillborn son, James, in her arms. Today, she hopes others like her can get the help they need.

Jamie Ascher lost her two sons and now works to help others like her

In Canada, it is considered a miscarriage up to 20 weeks and a stillbirth after 20 weeks. (Dragan Grkic/Shutterstock)

Five years ago, Jaime Ascher held her stillborn son, James, in her arms.

A few days before giving birth, the New Westminster, B.C., resident had already been told that her son's heart had stopped beating — but that didn't lessen the shock.

"Nothing can prepare you for those moments of holding your child who never got to take a breath," Ascher told On the Coast host Stephen Quinn.

Jaime Ascher wants people to realize that giving birth to a stillborn is just like losing any family member. (Christine Coulter/CBC)

"We had to say goodbye, walk out the door, and go home, without a baby."

Ascher said that although hospital staff were supportive, she didn't encounter a lot of people who really understood her grief.

"It's not a topic people talk about," she said.

Those who have experienced a stillborn need support from family and friends, said Ascher — but often they don't equate the loss of a stillborn baby with the loss of any other family member.

"Our babies are our children, even though they didn't take a breath."

Conference calls for prevention, awareness

After giving birth to another stillborn in 2013 — her son Zachary — Ascher decided to look for support. She found it in Still Life Canada, an organization for which she is now president.

Still Life Canada has partnered with the International Stillbirth Alliance to host a conference that calls for more effective stillbirth prevention. It also aims to raise awareness about the grief experienced by those affected, and the compassion they need from others.

The International Conference on Stillbirth Prevention and Care takes place on Oct. 2 in Vancouver. 

The all-day conference will feature a variety of speakers — medical professionals, parents who have had stillborn babies, and academics — and will be followed by a workshop on Saturday. 

To hear the full interview, listen to the audio labelled: President of Still Life Canada wants better and more compassionate care for parents whose babies are born still


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