Campaign in memory of tragic Xanthe

A couple left grief-stricken after the “nightmare” unexplained stillbirth of their baby following a healthy full-term pregnancy have set up a campaign in her name for more research.

A couple left grief-stricken after the “nightmare” unexplained stillbirth of their baby following a healthy full-term pregnancy have set up a campaign in her name for more research.

Emma and Alex Pheby had no idea there would be any problems with Xanthe after a textbook nine-month pregnancy and a labour apparently without complications and it was not until she was born at more than 8lb that they knew anything was wrong.

Doctors later ascertained she had died between eight to 12 hours before but still can not explain why.

Mr and Mrs Pheby, from Norwich, have called on the government to help prevent further deaths - and have started a website to raise awareness and funding for research including an online petition.

They have even written to Norwich South MP Charles Clarke asking for intervention in how the government deals with stillbirths and have been told that Mr Clarke is arranging to speak to the health minister about the issue.

It was just hours after the family had celebrated the birthday of their son Elliot, two, that Mr and Mrs Pheby suffered the devastating loss of their second child.

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Xanthe was stillborn during a home birth on April 4 at 1.25am when Mrs Pheby was 40 weeks and 5 days pregnant. They said by the time they called the midwife Mrs Pheby was so near to giving birth that they did not try to listen to Xanthe's heartbeat and so did not know that Xanthe was dead until she was born.

“It was the most horrific and unexpected shock in what had been such a wonderful pregnancy and such an easy and not very painful labour. It was hard to comprehend or believe it to be true at the time. It felt extremely surreal and nightmare like.”

The couple said that after spending nearly 12 hours with Xanthe, something parents are encouraged to do, in an empty hospital ward they then had to go to register her stillbirth and organise her funeral.

They said that stillbirth devastates families yet little is spoken about it and there is a woeful lack of research into it.

The couple said they did everything they possibly could to ensure they had a healthy baby but today said more money needs to be pumped into why so many happen, with one in 200 pregnancies resulting in a stillbirth - a third of those occurring at full-term.

Mrs Pheby, 34, a solicitor, said: “Xanthe was so nearly with us, she was a healthy weight and looked ready for life. We have looked at every possible reason why it could have happened but does not seem to be one. I was overly cautious during pregnancy if anything.”

She said she hoped the campaign would mean Xanthe's death was not in vain and that the couple might be able to help prevent other stillbirths or give support to parents going through the same experience.

“I carried Xanthe carefully for nine happy months, feeling her move and seeing her grow on scans, and had I gone into labour just 24 hours before she would probably be here with us now.

“We feel compelled to launch the campaign as although it won't bring Xanthe back we feel it is tremendously important to do what we can to prevent this happening to others and to do something positive in our daughter's name.”

If you would like to join the Pheby's campaign, sign the petition or get some more information on stillbirths log onto

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