The release of the 2021 stillbirth figures makes sad, but unfortunately not unexpected, reading. 

Following a steady decline in recent years, 2021 saw rates increase from 3.8 per 1000 births to 4.1 per 1000 births. There were 2,597 stillbirths in 2021, an increase of 226 from 2020. 

The numbers are truly shocking but this isn't about numbers. It is about babies. Loved babies. Babies that should be here. 

Behind every single one of the stillborn babies is a family left completely devastated. 

This is Charlene's story. 

"I was so proud of my bump and we celebrated birthdays, her baby shower, family and friends gatherings, Christmas and all 4 seasons of the year with her. Each night we would check our bounty app for any updates on what she would be doing as a bump now. Each Wednesday we found out what her new foot size would be and what fruit our bump had become this week. Each morning, before work, Steven would race downstairs to change the baby calendar so we knew how many days were left. We attended our antenatal classes with all the other excited mummies and daddies. Steven just couldn't contain his excitement and was so protective over both me and our wee "bumpy chops" Francesca. Her due date approached , then it came and went and as the days ticked by I would eagerly bounce on the gym ball eating pineapple and Steven made me laugh as he sat on the couch reading the baby book for the millionth time to learn about breastfeeding and the best ways to soothe a crying baby.

Then, at exactly 1 week past her due date on the morning of the 7th February 2018, I was in labour and when we got to the hospital we found out there was no heartbeat and our baby had died.... Francesca had died and so did our hearts! We were completely and utterly shattered and to this day no words will ever describe the pain you feel to know your baby has gone and there's absolutely nothing you can do to make her come back.

Francesca was born on Thursday 8th February at 6.01am weighing 8lb 11oz with her daddy right at mummy's side and the most loving midwifes there to help her come into the world.

Francesca was a baby who loved bath times and always got excited in her wee bump when the water splashed against her. She loved lemon San Pellegrino so much her daddy nearly went bankrupt buying in the latest shipment from the local Tesco for her mummy. She loved pineapple so much her mummy started to take reactions from eating so much of it over the last couple of months. She loved to listen to music and bands such as the Stereophonics , Kings of Leon and some Mumford & sons but was also partial to a bit of Pete Tongs latest collection.

Francesca was a baby.... She wont be defined as simply another statistic or stillbirth ... she was our baby and she has a very big family who love her very, very much.

We are just so broken that we will never be able to read her a bedtime story, give her cuddles, watch her sleep or grow up into a beautiful, loving and caring woman. We will never be able show how much she really was wanted and loved from the day we all knew she existed and that will forever break our hearts until we pass over to other side to meet with her again one day and catch up on all those lost cuddles.

Francesca Alexis Johnston, Stillborn but forever loved and forever missed xxx"

The fact this has happened once is devastating. This is happening seven times a DAY here in the UK. 

We must do more, 

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