The bear provides a sensitive conduit for midwives and nurses to support and discuss the emotional and well-being needs of parents, particularly in the turbulent days following their baby’s death. The label attached to each bear will signpost parents to our website, where they will find support and information.
This scheme is completely free of charge to hospitals. One of our volunteers will deliver the bears to your hospital, usually in batches of 12 or 24. All we ask is that your staff give parents the opportunity to take home a bear following the death of their baby.
We provide guidance on how midwives and nurses can offer the bears and we also offer a specific awareness training course, with two training options. We can either provide a three- hour face to face session or we have a 30-minute online option, which could easily be integrated into your hospital mandatory training. The aim of our training is to give a greater insight into the experiences of parents whose babies have died, along with information on the benefit of parents having a soft object to cuddle as part of the grieving process. All our training is also free of charge, please contact us on the email address below for further information.
Since we started in 2010, we have ensured that more than 20,000 bears have reached the aching arms of bereaved mothers and fathers, either through hospitals or individual requests via this site or through our social media channels. We are now also able to support siblings and the extended family through the purchase of our Dandelion bears. Families can either purchase them directly through the website or hospitals can purchase a supply to give to the families they support. Please get in touch if you are interested in this.
We are aware that many hospitals already have many memory making options available for families and the Aching Arms bears can run alongside these. Our bears are a different way of supporting families, as they are a gift of support for parents from other bereaved parents, letting them know they are not alone.
To download our Health Professionals leaflet please click here (PDF) or to see the leaflet in Welsh click here (PDF).
To download our Advice for Midwives and Nurses document, please click here (PDF). If you are a health professional who is interested in becoming involved in this scheme, or want to discuss our free training, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The charity is so valued by many bereaved parents and families, and the bears are a very welcome addition to further enhance the bereavement care that we are able to provide within the hospital.
At Aching Arms, we are keen to ensure we are providing support and care to bereaved families in the best way that we can. This is why we are striving to get more involved in research and want to help increase the evidence-base into what helps families following the death of a baby. We hope to do this in a number of ways:
Conducting our own research
We get regular feedback from families at events we attend and via social media, that the Aching Arms bears bring a lot of comfort. However, we think it would be helpful to explore this further in a more formalised way, and so are planning ways to conduct our own research.
We are working with a trainee clinical psychologist, Amy Burgess, at Lancaster University who is currently recruiting for her research study. The purpose of this study is to investigate fathers’ experiences of stillbirth. In particular, the study will explore the ways that fathers build relationships with their baby in pregnancy, and how they might foster continuing relationships with their baby following the loss. She is interested in the way objects (like the baby’s clothes, a teddy bear, photographs or a memory box) are used to facilitate this relationship.
If you are a bereaved father who would be interested in finding out more about this study, you can contact Amy at email@example.com or on 07508 375624.
Supporting the research of others
We want the experiences of families who have suffered the death of a baby to be heard and understood, so that the available support can be improved. Therefore, we are keen to support researchers who are conducting studies in this area and would encourage them to get in touch with us using the contact details below, to see if we can be of any help. This may be in terms of supporting with the development of research materials, consulting on the planning for the research or aiding with recruitment.
We would also like to start sharing relevant research that has been conducted with bereaved families or the professionals who care for them. We understand that not everyone will want, or find it helpful, to read academic papers on this topic and it should be noted that the language used can sometimes be very clinical and potentially triggering for the bereaved. However, we would like to provide links for those people who would like to read more about the evidence-base around baby loss and how we can better support families.
If anyone would like to find out more about the research plans of Aching Arms, have a research project they would like to share or get support with, or are interested in helping out in anyway, please contact
Dr Anna Clancy on firstname.lastname@example.org
On 28th February 2023, a group of 13 pregnancy and baby charities, including Aching Arms, told the UK Covid-19 Inquiry how all aspects of pregnancy, maternity, neonatal and postnatal care were dramatically disrupted during the pandemic.
Leanne Turner, Aching Arms Founder and CEO said, “In response the disruption to bereavement services during the Covid-19 pandemic, Aching Arms took a step change from its existing work and launched the Supporting Arms Service. We knew bereaved families were feeling isolated and needed to know they were not alone. I felt it was very important that we participate in Module 3 of the Covid-19 Inquiry, to represent our bereaved mums, dads and their families, in the hope that their experiences are heard, and change happens.”
On behalf of the group of charities, Jenny Ward said, ‘’While as individual organisations we support babies and families at all different stages of their pregnancy, birth and early childhood journey, we are united in our determination to ensure important lessons are learned so that policies implemented in future explicitly consider the full impact on new and expectant parents and their babies”.
Please see joint Press Release for more information.
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