Much needed baby bereavement room approved for Queen Elizabeth Hospital
"This space is needed for parents at the most horrific of times. It was agony listening to mothers labouring around me."
Plans have just been approved by the hospital’s CEO for fundraising for a much needed bereavement suite in the QEH.
Currently, grieving mothers are taken to a room located in the centre of Waterlily , “surrounded by live babies and labouring mothers”, which is distressing for families trying to mourn the death of a baby.
The room would be a soundproof area designed to look ‘home-like’ with a refrigerated cold cot, where the family could cuddle and hold their baby, a kitchen to prepare meals and a bed for partners and visitors to stay overnight. Specialist bereavement midwives such as Sharon Young would be on hand to attend to any needs of the family.
Verity Gamble of Lynn, also mother to daughter Gracie, tragically lost her baby Summer Ashley Gamble at 40 weeks 2 days gestation. She is now leading the fundraising campaign to raise the money needed for a bereavement suite.
Verity’s story is heart wrenching and she praises the ‘wonderful’ staff at QEH for their support.
Verity arrived at the hospital after noticing she hadn't felt her baby move that morning.
"The midwife put the gel on my belly and after a few minutes announced, 'I'm sorry there is no heartbeat.' that's the moment our lives changed forever." Summer was delivered by caesarean section to Christina Aguilera's song Beautiful and Verity's husband Ashley announced that they has another little girl.
Verity felt lucky to use the specially designed cold cot or cuddle cot provided which allowed her to be close to Summer after delivery. “We wish that statistics for baby loss would drop, but sadly that isn’t the reality,” says Verity, who wishes she could have “taken Summer home.”
The room would provide a much needed space for families to grieve.”It’s the only time you get to have as a family, I left the hospital with a memory box.”
Sadly, this isn't the only story of loss on the Waterlily ward in recent years. Alex Bush of Lynn, gave birth to daughter Temperance on 11th April 2016.
"We were in the suite one week prior to her birth, the room was ok but it needed a lot more home comforts, it was lacking tenderness," Alex recalls,"It was agony listening to others giving birth knowing our baby was going to be born sleeping. We knew partners would be celebrating the birth of a live, healthy baby while we were waiting to say goodbye."
In the case of Alex, a separate room would have provided precious moments with her daughter before going home, "We were not able to use the Waterlily suite on the day of Temperance's birth and that meant we didn't get to stay the night. We left the hospital too soon because it was painful to be around other families. We have since had another baby and the care from staff was amazing, but we need a proper bereavement suite for parents to be with their babies at the most horrific of times."
Danielle Kendle, who gave birth to her daughter Tia-Louise on the 4th January 2007 had experience of the old bereavement suite before it was given up to make way for an NICU refurbishment. "I had fantastic care in the old suite which was soundproof and had all I could need, it was so private. Care should move forward not backwards. I feel incredibly sad hearing stories about parents who felt they didn't matter because their baby had died. It's heartbreaking."
Lee Armitt, a spokesperson for SANDs baby bereavement charity said, “Not all hospitals provide a bereavement room post-birth, and not all birthing units have cuddle cots. There is definitely a need for these type of rooms as they provide parents precious time with their babies.”
Figures show that “15 babies are stillborn every day in the UK” so facilities such as these have high demand. Cathy Milburn who founded sands said, “A parent’s experience at hospital can have a huge impact on the way they grieve later”.
Verity is holding a fundraising event at Knight's Hill on August 2nd to raise money. The event will feature music from the vintage trio The Knightingales who have rebooted wartime classics. It will be the first of many fundraisers. If the target is reached the room could be ready as soon as Christmas.