A single mum of one, who is also a funeral director, is offering an incredibly sensitive service to parents of stillborn and miscarried babies.
LeighAnne Hedges, who lives in Plymouth with her daughter Lucy, 11, has taught herself to sew in order to make clothing and pouches for tiny stillborn and miscarried babies. As there are generally no clothes small enough for these infants, the babies would otherwise be buried wearing little more than a blanket.
“My hope is that we can make sure that no baby goes to their resting place undressed,” says LeighAnne of her dream for the development of her charity, Little Things Angel Clothes.
Funeral for a 21-week-old baby
LeighAnne decided to launch Little Things Angel Clothes after helping a couple whose baby had been born at 21 weeks. “The baby boy had died very shortly after birth, and his parents came to me for funeral services,” she says. “When we picked him up from the mortuary, he was wrapped in tissue.”
LeighAnne found that simply no baby clothes existed that would fit his tiny body.
“I wasn’t a sewer or a knitter. I could sew on a button, but that was about it.” But, despite this, she was convinced that something needed to be done in order for the baby to receive a dignified burial in more than a blanket. So she went home and worked out how to fashion a tiny vest, and sewed it together by hand.
“There is a real need for this – I believe that everyone, babies included, should have a proper, dignified goodbye,” says LeighAnne, who says she has had babies brought to her in “no more than a Tupperware pot”.
LeighAnne’s motivation for helping parents who have lost babies is also deeply personal. “I lost a baby many years ago myself,” she says. “Doing this makes me feel satisfied. It’s making a difference. To a parent who has lost a child, the basic right of being able to dress them properly is important.”
Since dressing that first infant’s little body, the charity has dressed more than 1000 babies. Requests for clothing come through LeighAnne’s work in funeral direction as well as from local hospitals and charities. Parents from across the world who have heard about her work through her Facebook page have also requested outfits or pouches for their deceased babies.
How can we all help?
So far, LeighAnne has funded the not-for-profit charity herself, although recently she was anonymously given an £800 embroidery machine. She says that, as yet, Little Things Angel Clothes has been unable to afford a website.
With demand for her miniature baby clothes rising, LeighAnne is in need of more volunteers willing to sew baby clothes. This can be done by correspondence as she has created a pattern which can easily be emailed.
She is also in need of fabrics, which can be posted to her. Financial donations go towards posting the clothes to parents, who LeighAnne has decided not to charge for the clothing, as they are experiencing the painful loss of a child.
Could you help LeighAnne? For more information, visit www.facebook.com/LittleThingsangelclothes