East Devon couple’s campaign after loss of baby Poppy

Emma Voysey and Mark Herrod

Emma Voysey and Mark Herrod - Credit: Archant

An East Devon couple are campaigning to warn pregnant mums to take a vital vitamin boost – following the heartbreaking loss of their baby daughter.

When Emma Voysey, 25, discovered she was five weeks pregnant in October, it was unexpected. She and partner Mark Herrod, 27, were surprised – but very happy.

Emma had never heard about the importance of taking folic acid before and during pregnancy to help prevent neural tube defects, such as spina bifida. When she found out, she began to take some – but, she admits, only irregularly.

Then her world collapsed when a 20-week scan showed her baby, the couple had named Poppy, had developed spina bifida – a split in the spinal cord which carries vital messages from the brain.

Speaking to You Magazaine, Emma said: “We thought we could give Poppy a happy life if her brain was not affected. But a scan at Bristol revealed it was very severe. Poppy would need surgery as soon as she was born, and a minimum of 30 to 40 operations to survive. She would always be in a wheelchair and her quality of life would be very low. We were heartbroken, but we agreed the kindest thing for Poppy would be to terminate the pregnancy.”

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That took place at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, where specially-trained midwives looked after Emma and Mark until Poppy was born.

“The midwives were wonderful – they made everything feel so normal. They put Poppy in a hand-knitted dress with a rose on the front and we held her in our arms,” said Emma.

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Next day, Poppy was buried in a wood at the couple’s farm, along with one of the cuddly toys made by volunteers.

Now Emma and Mark want women who might get pregnant to know they should take folic acid daily to help prevent neural tube defects.

They are fundraising for Shine - the spina bifida charity - and for more midwives at the Exeter hospital to train to help patients with terminations.

A recent sponsored cycle ride, which attracted 101 adults and 25 children, helped swell the fundaising to £8,000.

Emma is happy to talk to anyone who finds themselves facing the same difficult decisions. They can email her on emmavoysey@hotmail.com

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