Refurbished baby loss bereavement unit opens at Guy's and St Thomas'

Thursday 15 October 2020

Bereavement midwife in the Butterfly Bereavement Suite website image

Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust has opened a refurbished bereavement suite for parents who experience baby loss.

The Butterfly Bereavement Suite at St Thomas’ Hospital was officially unveiled by staff from the bereavement maternity team on Wednesday 14 October, during Baby Loss Awareness Week.

The refurbished unit is located away from the labour ward and offers families a private and comfortable space to grieve the loss of their baby.

The suite now includes a foldout bed for partners and food storage and refreshment facilities.

It also features new butterfly themed artwork which was chosen by families who have been affected by baby loss.

The suite is staffed by specialist bereavement midwives Zahra Famili, Anna Nella and Gillian Donaldson and includes a bereavement memory box to help families say goodbye to their babies.

Zahra Famili, specialist bereavement midwife, said: “We are delighted to open our refurbished Butterfly Bereavement Suite. The facility provides support to families suffering the devastation and trauma of baby loss. It’s separate from our labour ward so parents can grieve in private without having to see families with new babies.

“It was very important to us that the room provides as much comfort, peace and support as possible. Bereaved families were involved in the refurbishment and helped to influence the design. As a result, the room feels more homely than clinical and there is sufficient space for partners to spend the night so families can be together.

“The room also contains bereavement items such as a memory box for parents to make special keepsakes and spend precious time with their babies. The feedback from families has been very positive. The room has provided them with comfort during a very difficult time.”

Nina Khazaezadeh, interim head of midwifery at Guy's and St Thomas’, said: "Losing a baby during pregnancy or birth is a great tragedy and puts an enormous stress on parents. Dedicated professional care is critical to support bereaved parents and we are delighted to be able to offer support to parents through our maternity bereavement team and refurbished Butterfly Bereavement Suite.”

Kate Brintworth, NHS England and NHS Improvement Regional Chief Midwife for London, said: "The care that families receive at a time of loss is so important and needs to be specialised and sensitive to support them kindly and carefully. I am so pleased to see Guy's and St Thomas’ has opened this bereavement suite to ensure that families experiencing the pain and trauma of loss get the care that they really need." 

A number of events have been held at Guy’s and St Thomas’ to mark Baby Loss Awareness Week.

The maternity bereavement team held a special prayer and reflection session to begin the week’s activities.

They also hosted workshops for staff throughout the week to raise awareness of baby loss and the services they provide.

A special candle lighting service will be held in the birth centre at St Thomas’ Hospital to remember babies who have lost their lives.

Guy’s and St Thomas’ provides a range of services to support families affected by baby loss. The Trust has partnered with the baby loss charity Petals to provide free counselling sessions, funded by Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity, for individuals or couples to help them process the grief they have experienced, as well as supporting them through future pregnancies.

Guy’s and St Thomas’ is the first Trust in London to work with the charity Cradle to provide parents dealing with early pregnancy loss with peer support, comfort bags and outpatient support packs.

Bereaved parents also have access to a ‘cold cot’, donated by the baby loss and stillbirth charities Abigail’s Footsteps, SiMBA, 4Louis and the manufacturer of Cuddle Cots, so they can stay with their babies for longer and say goodbye in their own time.

The Trust has also partnered with the charity Remember My Baby to provide free professional photography to families suffering the loss of a baby.

Zahra said: “Losing a baby during pregnancy or birth is a huge tragedy. Our bereavement team and specialist services are there to support parents going through an extremely difficult time. We are very proud to support Baby Loss Awareness Week and are thankful to all of the charities who have provided us with bereavement items to help families make special memories with their babies. It’s really important that we raise awareness of these issues to provide even better care and to ensure families don’t suffer alone.”

The Butterfly Bereavement Suite refurbishment was funded by Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity.

Last updated: October 2020

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