What do you do, Zahra?

Zahra Famili is the lead bereavement midwife at the Trust.

Colourful question marks drawn by a child

Main picture for blog (2)September 2023

What is your role?

I am the lead bereavement midwife at the Trust and support families who are sadly going through losing a baby during pregnancy or shortly after birth. My team and I are with families at the most tragic time, when our families are going through bereavement. I also support our colleagues, collect data for national programmes and arrange training.

What is your passion?

My passion is to provide family-centred care that is empathic and individualised to the needs of our families. The literal meaning of the word “midwife” is to be "with woman", and I feel that in my role to support families around all aspects of maternity care, including when a mother and her family go through the tragic process of losing a baby.

What made you go into your role?

I cared for a family when a baby girl was stillborn when I was newly qualified midwife.  At the time, I felt that I did not have the skills or insight to provide such specialised support to the family. I did not know how to communicate with bereaved families. I did not know about the options available to them. It made me feel inadequate and vulnerable myself. That moment was what motivated me to learn how to be a better midwife when caring for parents when the worst happens.

Have there been any recent changes in your team?

Since January 2023, a new role was created to employed a bereavement clinical nurse specialist (CNS) to offer support for women and their families who sadly experience pregnancy losses under 18 weeks gestation. Mrs Anca Tambrescu (bereavement CNS) joined the team to ensure that all bereaved mothers and families will receive a high standard bereavement care regardless of the pregnancy gestation. Anca is based at gynaecology ward (8th Floor, North Wing), and she also support mothers with an early pregnancy loss who attend the early pregnancy and acute gynaecology unit.

What is your favourite part of your job?

I am aware that when a family suffers from a pregnancy loss or the death of their baby, no one can remove the pain and sorrow. However I know with appropriate care, we may be able to make this traumatic experience a little bit more bearable. No parent is ready to lose a baby. It is my duty to support them. My favourite part is when parents tell me that my support made a difference. The other favourite part is when our bereaved families come back to us with a new pregnancy.

Why is it important to recognise Baby Loss Awareness Week?

Generally, as a society we are not good at talking about death. Baby death in many cultures is a taboo subject, and it is associated with feelings of guilt and shame. This leads to families becoming isolated after the loss of a baby and Baby Loss Awareness Week (BLAW) is here to raise awareness and make people realise that they are not alone. Our intention is to break the silence around baby loss. 

The three objectives of BLAW are supporting bereaved families, raising awareness about pregnancy and baby loss, and drive improvements in care, support and prevention. On the last day of BLAW, we commemorate the lives of babies who have died with the global Wave of Light at 7pm on 15 October. 

Colourful question marks drawn by a child

Thank you to the children and young people who have so brilliantly illustrated our blog pages.

What do you do?

We love highlighting our staff and their amazing career journeys.

Read other pieces in this series:

  • What do you do, David? As a consultant in paediatric and fetal cardiology at Evelina London Children’s Hospital, David uses MRI to help diagnose heart problems in babies that are in the womb.
  • What do you do, Ashira? As an asthma clinical nurse specialist, Ashira is passionate about helping children and young people to manage their asthma. 
  • What do you do, Nanna? As Chief Children's Pharmacist at Evelina London, Nanna explains why she was inspired to work in the field of pharmacy and what she finds exciting about her role.