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New Room for Stillbirth and Neonatal Loss at Whangarei

Media Statement

Date: Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Subject: New Room for Stillbirth and Neonatal Loss at Whangarei Hospital

A special room dedicated to stillbirth and neonatal loss in Whangarei Hospital’s new maternity unit will be fantastic, says a mother who delivered a still born earlier this year.

This week marks Baby Loss Awareness Week. Kelly Stevens gave birth to James in March at 27-weeks gestation. James died from a parasitic disease called Toxoplasmosis which pregnant women are susceptible to.

At the time, because the ward was not particularly busy, Mrs Stevens was given a wing in the maternity ward to go through her “horrendous” ordeal.

“I know that everyone doesn’t get to have what I had if the ward is full so I was lucky. It’s fantastic to have that privacy to deal with your grief.

“The way I was treated by my midwife and all the staff was just amazing. The Northland DHB support was fantastic.”

However, Mrs Stevens says, although she did not have to listen to other mothers giving birth or babies crying, she was still surrounded by reminders of what should have been, such as breast feeding posters on the wall.

“How I was treated is how everyone in my situation should be treated and I think a specially-dedicated room will make a huge difference.”

Maternity new build project leader Annette Griffin says the special facility, to be named the Butterfly Room, is the only one in Northland and will be used for still birth and neonatal loss.

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“It will be self-contained so families don’t have to wander along public corridors but will have privacy. It’s in the quietest corner of the maternity unit and is a larger room than others. Our intention is to set out the furniture so it’s not as clinical as the others but more homely. It will have a sofa bed and an ensuite.”

Still births and neonatal loss get priority under the current system, with one-on-one midwife care, social worker and chaplain support as well as support packs from local voluntary organisation Sands.

Sands works with the hospital to fill any needs and the Whangarei group provide families with moses baskets, support packs, memory boxes, containing teddies, inkless hand/footprint kits, a candle, memory book and a certificate of life. The group also supply early loss packs for families who experience a miscarriage and have offered to contribute to the Butterfly Room.

“The new facility will still offer this support but the families will have privacy while allowing them time to grieve without feeling rushed,” says Ms Griffin.

Northland DHB record on average thirty-five miscarriages and eighteen still birth and neonatal deaths a year. However, this is only a portion.

Whangarei Hospital midwife and Sands liaison Ann Austin has played a part in around twenty-five still birth deliveries but says it doesn’t make it any easier.

“This new facility is well over due.”

The new maternity unit, which will also include five birthing rooms, two assessment rooms with ensuite facilities, and eighteen inpatient beds in mainly one and two bedroom units with ensuites, is expected to be up and running in April 2015.

© Scoop Media

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