ITV Soap Coronation Street is to tackle the difficult subject of late miscarriage when Michelle Connor loses her baby at 23 weeks.

Actress Kym Marsh has taken the brave decision to be involved in the storyline just a few years after she lost her son Archie at a similar stage of pregnancy.

Kym and producer Kate Oates discussed the storyline early in 2016 and Kym felt, that as it was a subject so close to her heart, she wanted to help raise awareness of the issues surrounding late miscarriage.

The programme has worked closely with Stillbirth and neonatal death charity Sands on the episode which will air on ITV week beginning January 9th 2017.

In the coming weeks viewers will see Michelle and Steve struggle to come to terms with the loss of their beloved baby boy Ruairi (pronounced Rory) after she goes into early labour.

The heart-breaking scenes explore how the death affects both the mother and father and also the extended family.

Kym Marsh said: “I thought long and hard before agreeing to take on the challenge of this storyline. It is obviously a cause very close to my heart having lost my beautiful Archie at 21 weeks and 5 days. I discussed it with my family and friends, all of who were very supportive.

“In the end I felt it was an important story to tell in order to raise awareness of something which affects thousands of women every year.

“I have had to go to some very dark places in my mind whilst filming these heart-breaking scenes but my family, friends and colleagues have been incredible. Losing a child is something that never leaves you so to revisit those feelings as Michelle has been challenging.

“Coronation Street ensured that I had a counsellor on set at all times to go to after filming the scenes but for me the best tonic after a hugely emotional day was to go home to my kids and be reminded of how lucky I am to have them.

“I am very proud of what we have done with this storyline and I hope it helps raise awareness and helps people to talk about their own experiences.”

Coronation Street producer Kate Oates said: “The subject of miscarriage will always be sensitive; but telling this story with Simon and Kym at the centre would always have an extra poignancy. Through careful writing and research, we hope we are able to encourage discussion, understanding and compassion for those viewers affected by the loss of a baby. The cast were in safe hands with our amazing and empathetic director Tony Prescott, and it has been humbling to see all the actors involved being so selfless and generous in their performances.”

Erica Stewart, Bereavement Support and Awareness Specialist at Sands, said: “We’re pleased to have been approached by the researchers and writers at Coronation Street for advice and help to ensure that this heart-breaking storyline, that will see character Michelle have a late miscarriage at 23 weeks, is portrayed truthfully and sensitively.

“Miscarriage, which is the death of a baby in the first 23 weeks of pregnancy, is not rare. Sadly, it affects 200,000 couples each year in the UK, with most pregnancies ending in the first 12 weeks.

“The death of a baby later than this, but before 24 weeks when the baby’s death becomes a stillbirth, raises many issues. Bereaved mothers of babies who die later in pregnancy but before 24 weeks don’t have the same rights to maternity leave or pay as mothers of stillborn babies, and the baby’s death is not formally registered.

“At Sands, we know how distressing this can be when there is no legal document to say that the baby ever existed. We support anyone affected by the death of a baby, from when they find out their baby has died through to the weeks, months and years ahead.

“We applaud our fellow baby loss charities, such as the Miscarriage Association and Tommy’s, who are involved in campaigning to raise awareness of miscarriage and funding research into its causes.

“For a TV drama like Coronation Street to cover this devastating experience is a brilliant way of raising awareness of the issues surrounding a baby’s death at any gestation.

“The death of a baby is rarely talked about. Many people shy away from the issue, others have a misconception that this is a thing of the past.

“We hope that with a TV drama as popular as Coronation Street covering this heart breaking experience, it will help to lift the taboo, and raise awareness of all the issues that surround the death of a baby.”

About Sands

  • - Sands, the stillbirth and neonatal death charity, was established by bereaved parents in 1978.
  • - Sands supports anyone affected by the death of a baby; works in partnership with health professionals to improve the quality of care and services offered to bereaved families; and promotes and funds research and changes in practice that could help to reduce the loss of babies’ lives. It is a national organisation, with around 100 regional support groups across the UK.
  • - Stillbirth is not rare and it’s a tragedy that can happen to anyone. The UK’s stillbirth rate remains unacceptably high. More research is needed to help identify babies at risk and reduce the loss of babies’ lives.
  • - To find out how to get involved or donate to this charity please visit www.uk-sands.org
  • - Sands National Helpline – 020 7436 5881. Email:  helpline@uk-sands.org

Stillbirth and neonatal death key facts and statistics

Q: What is a stillbirth?

A: Stillbirth is when a baby is born dead after 24 completed weeks of pregnancy or more.

Q: What is a neonatal death?

A: Neonatal death is when a baby is born alive but dies under the age of 28 days.

  • In the UK, 2,117 babies died neonatally in 20151
  • In the UK, 3,434 babies were stillborn in 2015, that’s one in every 227 births1
  • 5,551 babies were stillborn or died within the first 4 weeks of life in the UK in 20151
  • In 2015 in the UK, one in every 141 babies was either stillborn or died in the first 4 weeks of life1

1Office for National Statistics. Figures for England and Wales are from ONS first release data death registrations, Table 4. Available from www.ons.gov.uk

For further information, please contact Lee Armitt, press and PR officer at the Sands press office on 0203 598 1959 or 07587 925411 or media@uk-sands.org