SNUGGLING her newborn baby, mum Abbie Southern yearned to feed her daughter and hear her cry.

Sadly, little Ivy-Rae's heartbeat had stopped and she was stillborn.

Middlewich mum Abbie and her partner Daniel Bebington, 24, were able to spend time with their beautiful daughter, dress her and take precious pictures before they had to say goodbye.

"It just didn't feel real," said Abbie, 27. "She looked like a perfect baby. She weighed 7lbs 2oz and came the day before her due date.

"I had a perfect pregnancy, very low risk and was planning a home birth.

"In 2018 you don't hear of babies dying."

To keep her daughter's memory alive Abbie has set up the Ivy-Rae Foundation, a non-profit organisation, to raise awareness about stillbirth and support other bereaved families.

"It is still such a taboo subject," she said. "We want the world to know about Ivy-Rae and the love she has.

"Just because she is not here in person, her spirit lives on with me, her dad and her sister.

"I don't want her memory to be forgotten."

Abbie was planning a home birth and called her midwife after going into labour at 7.30am on June 8.

When the midwife discovered that the baby's heart rate was half what it should have been she called an ambulance.

Ivy-Rae was delivered minutes after Abbie arrived at Leighton Hospital.

"When she was born she was lifeless, said Abbie. "They worked on her for 25 minutes. I was still under the impression that she would come round but the doctor came over and said: 'I'm so sorry but your baby hasn't made it'.

"It was like having a nightmare. Staff were very compassionate and gave us a room to make memories with her. There was a little garden so we could take her out and look at the stars.

"But it was heartbreaking because we could hear other babies crying and our baby was silenced.

"We were willing and wishing her to cry."

Abbie, whose eldest daughter Esmae will be two next week, was diagnosed with post traumatic stress syndrome as she struggled to cope with her loss.

"I wouldn't leave the house in case people didn't know and asked me how she was," she said. "I needed to do something.

"I decided to focus on Ivy-Rae and started a Facebook page. We've got over 1,000 followers.

"We've reached out to lots of mums and they have all thanked me for talking about stillbirth."

Abbie plans to train as a bereavement counsellor to help families come to terms with their sudden loss.

She hopes to provide memory boxes for parents to keep handprints and footprints of their lost babies.

People have offered to crotchet teddy bears and volunteers are turning donated wedding dresses into baby burial gowns.

Companies have pledged sponsorship and raffle prizes as the foundation strives to raise funds for a year before it can register as a charity.

"The whole community is coming together to help," added Abbie.

"It's been an emotional but incredible journey.

"I don't see myself as being strong or brave, just trying to survive such a traumatic event.

"I want to learn how to smile and laugh again without feeling guilty.

"Talking about Ivy-Rae makes me smile. I'm so grateful I got to hold her and carry her for nine months. I will always regret that I lost her but happy to have met her. She will always be our daughter."

To donate visit

The group is on facebook @Ivy-Rae Foundation.