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People Are Sharing Heartbreaking Stories And Images Of Their Stillborn Children

EastEnders actor Rakhee Thakrar started using #SayTheirName after her character on the show gave birth to a stillborn baby. Warning: This post contains images that some readers may find distressing.

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In Friday's episode of EastEnders, Shabnam and Kush learned that their unborn child had died, then in Monday's episode, Shabnam gave birth to their stillborn baby.

BBC

EastEnders worked closely with stillbirth and neonatal death charity Sands on the storyline to help raise awareness of how surprisingly common stillbirth actually is.

Sands bereavement support services manager Erica Stewart said: β€œSadly, stillbirth is not rare. In the UK alone 5,712 babies were stillborn or died within the first 28 days of life in 2013, shattering the lives of parents, their families, and friends."

Despite this, the death of unborn children is still rarely talked about, and through the popularity of EastEnders, Sands hopes to "lift the taboo, and raise awareness of all the issues that surround the death of a baby", Stewart said.

Following Tuesday's episode, in which the stillborn child was named Zaair, actor Rakhee Thakrar, who plays Shabnam, started using the hashtag #SayTheirName to encourage people to share the names of their stillborn babies.

For all the babies and children that don't get a tomorrow #SayTheirName @SandsUK

People responded by sharing images and stories of their babies.

@Say_Their_Name My little angel Sophia Maisie Wilkie πŸ’™πŸ’œ. Always loved. Always missed 😘😘

#SayTheirName @SandsUK πŸ’—πŸ’—RhysπŸ’—πŸ’—

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Many parents who shared their images described their babies as "born sleeping" or "born asleep".

@RakheeThakrar @Say_Their_Name please retweet, remembering our son Henry, born sleeping 2/5/14 #SayTheirName

My sleeping beauty Bella Violet born sleeping at 36 weeks. Bella #SayTheirName @RakheeThakrar

@RakheeThakrar My twin baby boys born sleeping 16.10.07 & still feels like it was yesterday πŸ’™ Jamie & Lewis πŸ’™πŸ’–πŸ’™

The hashtag gained momentum among people who had and hadn't experienced stillbirth.

@RakheeThakrar @splatwragg @Say_Their_Name you have no idea how much you are doing for so many people xxxxx

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@Say_Their_Name thank you for recognising our babies. My girls are so missed and loved. Amira and Jasmine πŸ’—πŸ’—

Stewart told BuzzFeed News that Sands thinks the hashtag is "brilliant", because "babies’ names don’t get mentioned enough once they’ve died and [the] funeral has happened, for fear of upsetting parents".

She added: "But it's really helpful to parents to be able to keep talking about their baby.

"The death of an unborn baby is a major bereavement and needs to be acknowledged as one. Parents don't forget about it, they just learn to live with it and the baby still very much becomes part of family, and that needs to be acknowledged."

Following the popularity of #SayTheirName, Thakrar has set up a dedicated twitter page for names and pictures of stillborn babies to continue to be shared.

Due to overwhelming response to #SayTheirName. Going forward @splatwragg & I decided to dedicate a page to ur babies names @Say_Their_Name πŸ’Ÿ

Stewart added: "Rakhee has given parents a platform and permission to talk about their babies and Sands welcomes that a lot."

Laura Silver is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Laura Silver at laura.silver@buzzfeed.com.

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