The new legislation surrounding paid bereavement leave following miscarriage or stillbirth comes at a great time for Emma Hebberd, who is coordinating the set-up of a local Sands support group which acknowledges the grief families experience following the loss of a baby.

“It’s a really positive outcome for our families to just have some of that support and time they need to grieve their loss,” she says.

The law change allows an employee to take up to three days’ paid bereavement leave if they or their partner experiences a miscarriage or stillbirth.

“Losing a baby is very hard and unfortunately quite common, with around one in five pregnancies ending in miscarriage,” says Employment New Zealand.

Emma will front the region’s Sands group and is currently liaising with other women who will be frontline supporters. The charity currently has 25 groups across the country, with the majority of volunteers having experienced the death of a baby themselves. “We are in the very early stages of setting it up and welcome new volunteers,” says Emma.

While the first priority is helping bereft mothers, she is hoping support will reach to whole families in time.

“The loss of a baby certainly affects partners and children, especially if older children are aware there is a pregnancy,” she says.

At this stage, a monthly child-friendly support group is planned, which will offer parents a place to share experiences, be listened to without judgement, and also given the essential emotional support needed to come to terms with their loss.

“Points of physical contact for support are limited for some women at this time with overseas family not able to be here in person,” she says. “Sands offers empathy and understanding and gives parents, both men and women, a place to feel safe to speak about their loss and to learn how to deal with that moving forward.”

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