The heartbreak of losing a baby is like no other kind of grief. Yet in Australia, almost one in 100 pregnancies that have reached 20 weeks or longer, end in stillbirth.
All across Australia, volunteers are working as part of a charity called Angel Gowns for Australian Angel Babies to support parents enduring the pain of baby loss, in a special way.
They are providing grieving parents with with beautiful burial clothes for their stillborn babies. Hand stitched, sewn and knitted by caring volunteers, they know that dressing a precious angel baby, no matter how tiny, can mean so very much.
Image via Cherished Gowns
Angel Gowns for Australian Angel Babies gift bereaved parents with with beautiful burial outfits for stillborn babies, handmade from donated wedding dresses. They reflect just how precious and loved each precious life was.
Inspired by an American angel gown making scheme that has hundreds of volunteers making tiny clothes from wedding dresses, in the UK, a charity called Cherished Gowns is also inspiring donors and makers.
Since becoming a registered charity in October 2014, the Angel Gowns For Australian Babies team of over 80 caring volunteers have sewn thousands of beautiful items of clothing for tiny babies who are stillborn or die following their premature birth.
Founder Sarah McVeigh, said that her experience as a mum of three beautiful, premature babies who were fortunate to survive, made her want to help families whose children were not so fortunate.
“After having my son at 27 weeks and enduring the long hard road in NICU, I saw how this service was needed.
“I saw a beautiful advertisement about a lovely group of ladies in the USA who were making burial outfits from wedding gowns.
“I contacted Michelle who I found on Facebook and asked her if she didn't mind me continuing their beautiful work here in Australia” said Sarah on her website.
Hundreds of brides from all over Australia, have donated their beautiful wedding gowns to Angel Gowns For Australian Angel Babies.
Each wedding dress can make between 12 and 30 tiny gowns. They are hand-sewn to perfectly fit each precious baby, with requests and referrals for the outfits coming to the charity via funeral homes and hospitals supporting bereaved families.
With many angel babies born too tiny for conventional baby clothes, the tiny gowns give parents the chance to dress and say goodbye to their child in something special and beautiful.
Image via Cherished Gowns
Each stillborn baby is gifted with a gown, bonnet, booties, angel wrap or blanket, as well as a keepsake for families.
"For a baby that is unable to be dressed because they are too fragile, we have created a wrap to cocoon their precious, little bodies for their parents and families," Sarah told Essential Baby, Australia's largest online parenting community.
Although Angel Gowns for Australian Babies has put an indefinite hold on dress donations, the baby loss charity is welcoming fund donations and supply donations including: dressmaking pins, sewing machine needles, velcro, ribbon and buttons.
- Details about how to get in touch are on the Angel Gowns website.