Scotland's first baby loss unit opens for bereaved families

Louise Caldwell campaigned for unit allowing women to deliver stillborn babies separately from labour wards after her own loss.

The first dedicated baby loss ward in Scotland has opened at University Hospital Wishaw in Lanarkshire. 

The unit allows women to deliver stillborn babies separately from labour wards. It’s part of a pilot project which, if successful, will be rolled out across the country. 

Louise Caldwell delivered her stillborn baby on a labour ward – an already traumatic experience that was made all the more difficult with happy new parents around her.

She told STV News: “As soon as you open that labour ward door, you’ve got in your face balloons cards, flowers, newborn babies, but there’s no mention of our babies at all.

“But at this baby loss unit you walk into this room and it’s quiet and peaceful, lavender. You feel an instant calm, feel that little bit of comfort.”

Mum-of-three Louise and her husband Craig know all too well the difference a private place like this will make to parents going through the same ordeal.

Craig said: “We sat for eight to nine hours in uncomfortable chairs, a ticking clock, just white walls to look at. At this facility, you’ve recliner chairs for the parents, books for siblings, comfy couches to sit on.

“It’s such a significantly improved environment to be in. It won’t change how you feel but will it’ll make it easier for you and your partner to get through it.”

The three rooms have a separate entrance, a dedicated midwife and are set away from a clinical environment and the labour ward.

New specialist unit offers families space to grieve the loss of their baby

Cheryl Clark, chief midwife with NHS Lanarkshire said: “This suite will be used for every day. There’s a lot of grieving families out there in Lanarkshire, a lot of loss.

“About 20% end in early pregnancy loss or baby loss.”

While this is a welcomed facility, there are plans to downgrade the neonatal intensive care unit here which helps those who gave birth to premature babies.

The Scottish Government are currently considering recommendations to consolidate intensive neonatal care into three large units in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen.

This would result in the downgrading of multiple units currently carrying out the specialist care to some of the country’s most vulnerable babies from a level three to level two.

The Scottish Government say it will continue to provide care to those babies who need it.

Louise and Craig say women from across the globe have contacted them to express the need for a service like the one at University Hospital Wishaw.

The couple plan to continue to champion change.

Louise said: “We shouldn’t have to campaign, but going out there and fighting for something women need is amazing.”

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