Mum whose son died during labour runs a charity foundation in his name

Sharon and her husband Jas founded the Luca Foundation in 2018 to help raise money for the NHS to have CuddleCots since losing their son Luca in 2012.

Founder of The Luca Foundation, Sharon Luca-Chatha, lost Luca in June 2012 from a stillborn birth. (Image: Visual Media)

It’s the devastation that no parents want to experience. Sharon Luca-Chatha and her husband Jas, from Coventry, lost their son Luca in 2012 and had to endure a stillborn birth. 

The couple now runs a charity foundation in Luca’s honour to help raise money for resources, facilities and training to help families that have suffered the loss of a baby.

Sharon said: “I fell pregnant in 2011 which was absolutely fine and I enjoyed my pregnancy.

“We had the growth scan at 24 weeks and everything was good. Later, we found that the professional had read the chart wrong and I should have been placed on monitoring, this ultimately led to the loss of Luca.”

She added: “It was the first day of my maternity leave when I was around 36 weeks pregnant, and he suddenly stopped moving and we couldn’t get him to move. So we phoned the hospital in the evening, and before midnight they told us his heart had stopped moving and he passed in my womb.”

When Sharon had the news broken to her, she was shocked. She found the aftercare process really hard, with multiple trips to and from University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire.

“I had to go home, get some sleep if I could and come back to the hospital the next day for a rescan to confirm again that Luca passed away, and I was praying for a miracle that they got it wrong. I was waiting around for ages with Jas and eventually when the doctor came, they asked how I wanted to give birth and advised me to go towards the natural route, rather than a C-section as it was better for the healing process,” Sharon said.

“The next morning the team said they needed to take him, as they said his body would deteriorate and his post-mortem needed to be done. Handing him over was the most horrible experience, where I screamed and cried at that point because I didn’t want him to go.”

Following on from the heart-breaking stillborn birth, Sharon and Jay desperately wanted to be parents, so by the end of 2012, she became pregnant again. She felt anxious throughout the pregnancy but felt relieved when she gave birth to Ky on June 14, 2013, a week before Luca’s birthday. 

When asked if the hospital should have a bereavement suite to help mothers going through stillborn births, Sharon agrees that they should. “The sensitivity around giving birth to a sleeping baby is traumatic for parents to be on a normal labour ward, and adds more trauma so if a suite was in place, it would make the process going forward easier to handle,” she said.

“But with a suite, there should be a dedicated midwife the whole time, if we had that, we wouldn’t have lost nine hours with Luca. When people are in these situations, they need that extra touch of care as it scars you for life.”

The Luca Foundation, founded by Sharon and Jas, has been running since November 2018. It continues Luca’s legacy through their charity work to help fund the repair of existing CuddleCots for maternity wards across the UK, as well as help buy new ones.

“CuddleCots preserve babies’ bodies so they give families more days to say their goodbyes, and keep the body cold rather than putting them in a mortuary straight away. It’s an instant shock to a mother and when it hits home, they start their grieving process, but a CuddleCot will allow them to start that process with their baby for their mental health and wellbeing. We ensure all the CuddleCots are working and we are the only charity to do that on a sustainable level.”

Since starting the foundation, Sharon has also written two books called ‘Why Did Grandad Die? A Family Guide of Death and Bereavement For Children’ and ‘Angel Warriors’ which is available in schools across Coventry and Warwickshire. Sharon said: “The book is about loss as a whole whether it’s a pet or grandparents, and talking to kids about loss and telling them they are allowed to express their feelings and not suppress them, which we have for generations.

“It is important to start breaking the taboo and talk about loss as a society and start with the younger generation. We want the book to be donated to all primary schools in the UK, and we recently were awarded a grant for £2,000 from the Lord Mayor of Birmingham to put the children’s book into schools across Birmingham.”

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