A Sussex mum who was forced to end her pregnancy has called for more support for grieving parents - and has set up her own group.
Natalie Pearson set up the group at the Wickbourne Centre in Clun Road, Littlehampton, after feeling isolated following the termination of her pregnancy and stillbirth of her son Louis last year.
The 25-year-old from Littlehampton, West Sussex, said: "In June 2018 I had to go through a terrible ordeal. I was faced with the decision of deciding to continue my pregnancy or end it. Either way, I was told my baby would die.
"So many people are affected by baby and child loss, so I came up with the idea of starting my own support group for ‘bereaved parents’ to help others and so we all have a safe space to speak."
Following the births of her son William, six, and daughter Emma, two, Natalie and her husband were expecting another baby.
On June 13, they went for a routine 16-week scan appointment at Worthing Hospital, and heard the words that no parent wants to hear: there was something very wrong with their child.
The next day, the couple saw a specialist in London, which is where 'their whole world fell apart'. She said: "My husband and I had to make a heartbreaking decision, which was to end the pregnancy that day, on the 14th of June 2018."
Two days later, the couple went to Worthing Hospital to have their baby delivered. One of the midwives made a print of their child's footprints in a memory box which they gave to Natalie.
She said: "We found out he was a boy and named him Louis. He was perfect and tiny."
Six weeks later, the family got the post-mortem results back and discovered Louis had a rare chromosome disorder called Triploidy which has a zero per cent survival rate.
After burying Louis on July 26, Natalie said she felt 'left with no support' and 'forgotten'. So she contacted the Wickbourne Centre to see what support was available - and they put the family in touch with a counsellor. Natalie saw her for eight weeks and described her as 'brilliant', inspiring her to form the bereavement group.
It starts on Thursday, January 17, from 10am to 11.30pm. Natalie said there would not be a crèche and children can not attend, due to the sensitive nature of what they would be discussing.
Natalie said: "I feel the group will benefit a lot of parents who have lost children at any stage in the pregnancy or after. No one will ever judge within the group. It’s all confidential."
Since the initial story was published on the website of the Littlehampton Gazette, our sister paper, Natalie has received an outpouring of support for sharing her experience, which she said she was 'blown away' by.
She said: "I’m completely overwhelmed and blown away by the response I’ve had from everyone. I didn’t expect it to go this far to be honest.
"I’ve had many mums come forward, with their personal stories and I’m honestly so proud of them and feel so privileged that they feel they can share their stories with me and ask for support.
"I’ve had a few people with the same stories as me and they have never felt they can ask for support and felt so alone. "I just want everyone to know that they are not alone in this and we are all in this together."