In this briefing Dr Milne explores the need for a change in our understanding and approach to suspected newborn child killing by mothers.
The death of a newborn child or late-term foetus is always a tragedy, and one that is incredibly difficult to predict or prevent. Research suggests that suspected women are incredibly vulnerable and have experienced a ‘crisis’ pregnancy. The crisis leads a woman to conceal/deny her pregnancy from herself and those around her, resulting in the child dying around the time of birth – in the perinatal period.
This briefing, written for professionals involved in the safeguarding of children, draws on research from Durham University. Key findings suggest that we need to reframe how we consider and approach the death of newborn children. ‘Neonaticide’ has traditionally been used to describe such deaths. However, this term fails to adequately capture the experiences of affected women nor the nature of the death of the child. Furthermore, while newborn child death is incredibly difficult to detect and prevent, supporting women and empowering them to seek help when they experience a crisis pregnancy will have the greatest impact.