Midwifery student has emotional poem published in leading academic journal

Date 28.04.2016

The University of Northampton regularly welcomes leading industry figures to campus, who share their knowledge and professional experience with students, lifting the lid on what professional life will be like for them after graduation.

Recently, second year Midwifery students heard from a Bereavement Midwife; a guest lecture arranged as part of the ‘Clinicians in the classroom’ series. The session was led by Bereavement Midwife Tracy Rea, who works at Milton Keynes University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. Tracy’s lecture aimed to prepare students for the demanding and complex role they aspire to do with a particular focus on the specialist role of the Bereavement Midwife.

While the birth of a child is usually a happy occasion, in the UK one in 200 births ends in stillbirth, and of those, 1 in 3 occurs at full term. The role of the Bereavement Midwife is to offer bespoke support to this vulnerable group of parents.

Midwife Tracy explained: “During the session I gave a keynote lecture looking at classifications of stillbirth and the principles of bereavement care, including causes of stillbirth, bereavement services for parents, and staff training and support.”

After the lecture, Tracy welcomed a couple who shared their experience of bereavement with the class. The couple, Chris and Katie, lost their baby son Stanley, and have since gone on to have a daughter, Betsy, who they brought along to introduce to the students. The student midwives had the opportunity to ask Chris and Katie questions, and the couple shared their memories of Stanley.

After attending the emotional event and reflecting on the session, student Beth Burns was so moved by the experience that she sent Midwifery lecturer Alison Power a poem that she had written, and the powerful words have been published in the British Journal of Midwifery.

Senior Lecturer Alison Power explained: “We always ask our students for feedback on sessions delivered by external speakers and in addition to the ‘usual’ comments, Beth also sent me a poem she had written. As you can see, the poem is very powerful and as Tracy and I were writing an article on the session as part of the series ‘Clinicians in the Classroom’ in my column in the British Journal of Midwifery, I felt it should be included. Beth’s poem perfectly demonstrated to demonstrate the impact of hearing individuals’ personal stories on the learning experience of healthcare students.  It is quite a feat to be published whilst still training – well done Beth!”

A parent is for life

By Beth Burns

There are no words to say how I really feel,

Tears rolling down my face, my world so surreal,

My unconditional love and nurturing touch was not enough,

My baby gone, my womb empty, why must life be so tough?

My friends mutter clichés like, ‘At least he’s in a better place’,

But in my mind, nothing compares to a parent’s sweet embrace,

His cot lies empty, rompers, booties and socks lay never worn,

I crave to know his characteristics, his smile, nothing for me to do

but mourn.

Life becomes a blur as days and weeks roll into one,

How can a child so beautiful have their life taken away before it

has begun?

People avoid making eye contact and I question did this happen

because of me?

How can there be a God? My life for his, I beg! I plea!

People tell me that one day soon, I will have to start moving on,

But he lives in memory, he’s my life, my world, my blood… my son.


Beth’s poem is published in the March 2016 issue of British Journal of Midwifery( Vol 24, No 3).