A brave North Lincolnshire mum has spoken of her heartache and pain of losing her son and the difference a new hospital facility made to her experience.
This Baby Loss Awareness Week, which takes place from 9 to 15 October every year, Maddie McAndrew shares her story.
Maddie, who was a patient at Scunthorpe hospital, said: “We knew Theo wasn’t going to make it, so I chose to give birth on the labour ward, before going to the new bereavement suite.
“After having Theo, I was really worried about hearing or seeing other babies, so I can’t imagine what it would be like to stay on the labour ward with other new mums. I know from friends sharing their experiences that having Theo was completely different – which is all down to having the bereavement suite. We were so lucky to have it.
“The suite and its facilities were amazing. It allowed us to spend time with Theo and hold him. The suite was big too, so there was space for our daughter Layla and our families to come and see him.
“Our midwife Megan even took hand and footprints of Theo, as well as Layla. They kept doing my observations at first, but then said it was up to me if I wanted them to come in or if we wanted to be left alone.”
The charity-funded bereavement suite helps families cope with their loss when they give birth to a stillborn baby or only have a short time to spend with their newborn. Since it officially opened in July, a handful of families have already used the suite. It opened following a two year £150,000 charity appeal by the official hospital charity, The Health Tree Foundation (HTF).
Lindsay Bennett, bereavement midwife for Scunthorpe and Goole hospitals, said: “Losing a baby at any stage throughout a pregnancy is so heart-breaking. As bereavement midwives, we provide a lot of emotional support for families. We’re there to help and will do anything we can to make the experience a tiny bit more bearable.
“We now have the bereavement suite at Scunthorpe hospital and the Blueberry room at Grimsby hospital which can be a huge help for those who need it.
“The suite at Scunthorpe allows parents and families to stay for as long as they need before going home. The suite has a bedroom, a kitchenette, a family area and a bathroom. It’s a special, sound-proofed space away from the labour ward where families can stay without having to worry about seeing or hearing any other babies.”
To mark the awareness week, baby loss remembrance services have been held for families who’ve experienced the loss of a child. For the events in Scunthorpe and Grimsby, more than 100 names were put forward to be read out and remembered. The remaining service will take place at 3pm on Saturday October 12 at St Lawrence’s Church in Scunthorpe.
Toni Newlove, bereavement midwife for Grimsby and Louth, added: “When a baby is born sleeping or passes away shortly after being born, we do everything we can to help families make memories they can hold on to. Whether that’s making hand and foot casts, bears made out of their babygrows or giving the parents the chance to push their baby in a pram – we’re there to help them.
“We can also help families with any additional support they need following their loss, such as organising follow-up appointments and referrals so they don’t have to call up and explain to anyone else what has happened. It can help just to have someone there to hold their hand through it all and we’ll stay in touch with the families for as long as they need our support.”
If you’re under the care of Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust, which has hospitals in Scunthorpe, Grimsby and Goole, you can contact the bereavement midwives for support:
Lindsay Bennett: 07525 906 939
Toni Newlove: 07548 141 221