A bereavement suite for parents who have suffered any kind of baby loss such as miscarriage or stillborn birth has opened at Conquest Hospital. The new suite, called the ‘Snowdrop Suite’, provides bereaved parents with a little oasis of peace and calm at a very difficult time in their lives.
The Bereavement Suite is designed to give bereaved parents a sympathetic environment to create memories and spend time with their baby, away from the maternity ward with its sounds of new born babies and families celebrating their birth.
Matron Kirsty Milward, one of the Bereavement Specialist Midwife said: “After losing a baby, parents and families find it very hard to stay on the labour ward. They are surrounded by the sounds and activities of birth, including the cries of other babies and families celebrating. The grief experienced having suffered the loss of a baby is profound and this is why being able to offer this bereavement suite is so important to women and their families. It allows them to spend time with their baby in a safe environment where they can form the bonds and memories which are so important to the grieving process.”
The suite is located near to the entrance of the delivery suite to allow on-going care to be given by midwifery staff, but with the facilities of a double bed, kitchenette, en-suite shower and toilet. It provides a private and quiet space to spend time as a family, with the opportunity to have their baby by their bedside in a cuddle cot, according to parents’ individual wishes.
To aid with memory making a memory box for keepsakes is provided by staff, and parents are supported to create these memories, through time with their baby. In addition to this, hand and footprints, photographs and any other wishes are taken into consideration.
Sands is the leading stillbirth and neonatal death charity in the UK. Chair of the local Hastings and East Sussex Sands group, Jayne Gibbins and the group’s Secretary Suz Brooks opened the new suite with Bereavement Specialist Midwives. Hastings and East Sussex Sands and the groups’ supporters raised £50,000 for the new suite.
Suz Brooks, who has suffered the loss of a baby herself said: “The new suite is beautiful; you forget you’re on a hospital ward – which is exactly as we wanted it to feel like. We wanted to provide families with a room in which to make special memories and feel safe to grieve. Some home comforts; some things that might seem basic, but make a big difference when you find yourself suddenly lost at sea saying both ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ to your baby.”
She added, “The funds Sands have donated for this bereavement suite have been raised with so many babies’ names in our heads and hearts. This room is for them and their families and for the people that held those families up through their loss. It is a safe and tranquil place for those families who are yet to get in this boat and sail these choppy waters. May it make their journeys a little smoother.”
The suite is now open and will help around 75 families a year, at one of their most difficult times in their lives.