We had a party today.
The party, which started in Australia and is underway in New York, is officially called “Ending Preventable Stillbirth “, and celebrates the release of a new monographic issue on stillbirth strongly supported by Lancet (after the work of 2011 ) and the result of three years of intense work (including mine and that of Alfredo, co-authors of work number 4 ).
For us, who are indeed researchers, but also and above all parents affected by mourning, today was the feast of the taboo.
Why Italy must take courage and say enough to the taboo on perinatal mourning.
# ciaotabù, I promptly renamed it, after reading hundreds of tweets and dozens of comments from Italian parents and operators.
After ten years of talking about it, what a study, that I have learned to defend myself from the taboo and its long claw hand, finally, even the international scientific community agrees (that is, cum-cordis, hearts in unison, “with the same heart” )
“Taboo and stigma worsen the quality of support for parents and therefore worsen their bereavement.”
From today, # ciaotabù will be my 2016 hashtag.
For the first time in 40 years of work on stillbirth, parents, operators, professionals, researchers agree in pointing the finger at the devastating effects that taboo causes from a health, psychological and psychosocial point of view.
For the first time it is written, in black and white, that the taboo is “old stuff”.
That maintaining taboos has a negative impact in terms of preventing avoidable events and promoting health.
Not only that, keeping the taboo results in an increase in costs and health care costs.
So # ciaotabù
You don’t need anyone.
You don’t help when you try to deny the evidence: two million and six hundred thousand stillbirths every year in the world. 98% in developing countries, India, Pakistan and Africa above all. 2% in other countries. 6 a day in Italy;
you are not needed when you gag journalists, and make silence about stillbirths, about parents’ stories, about what is important to know to protect pregnancy and prevent;
you are not useful when you confuse the waters and move the problem to goat wool issues, and in the meantime the parents wait;
you do not serve to alleviate the pain of parents. Indeed, taboo, your presence prevents the healthy elaboration of mourning, and favors the development of complicated mourning;
you are of no use to the operators and doctors who often, overwhelmed by the event and poorly prepared from an academic and emotional point of view, are wounded by mourning and, also thanks to you and the old story that truly professional operators must not get involved with patients’ problems, failing to ask for the right and deserved support;
you are not useful to those who want to do their work well in science and conscience, whatever it is;
you are not useful to parents in mourning, alone and isolated, above all thanks to you;
you are not useful to the friends and relatives of bereaved parents who, thanks also to you, often do not know how to do anything but repeat “you can always do another one” “you are young” “you have to react”;
you are not useful to politicians, managers, hospitals: who benefits from having an ideological cabinet full of prejudices, opinions, hearsay and packs of a thousand pieces of “it has always been done this way”? Who is the point of thinking that after all, “The children make up for themselves” ?;
Dear taboo, I wish I could tell you that you have done your time, but I know how you taboo are: you will not let go easily, you will not allow an easy and rapid cultural change: otherwise you would not be a taboo.
If you want to stay a little longer, just long enough to surrender to the evidence, do it.
But before reaching out your claw hand again, look into the eyes of a parent who had to say “hello and goodbye” to his child at the same time and tell him, in the face “you can always do more” or “maybe you didn’t really believe it, in this pregnancy”.
When you are done with that parent, find a midwife down at night: look at her, close the locker, after having just left the room where all night she supported, caressed, consoled a woman in labor petrified by the pain of perinatal death , where he encouraged an incredulous dad; look at her carefully, look at her hands: with those hands, with those arms, she welcomed the body of the stillborn child, touched it, looked at it, fixed it, and presented it to her parents.
After looking a parent and a caregiver in the face, the last effort, taboo:
look at that child, look at that face.
Feel small, taboo.
Because the love for these children is so great that sooner or later it will sweep you away.
The 2016 Ending Preventable Stillbirth Series
The Stillbirth Series of 2011
Information material by the International Stillbirth Alliance
Summary of the Series in Italian, for operators
Summary of the Series in Italian, for the community