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Health / Baby loss campaigner says maternity suite plan is ‘phenomenal’ news

Meanwhile Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart thanks the local NHS for ‘listening to the experiences of families and taking action’

Campaigner Lou Caldwell.

A WOMAN campaigning for dedicated baby loss facilities who suffered two miscarriages whilst living in Shetland has welcomed plans for a bereavement suite in Gilbert Bain Hospital’s maternity department.

Lou Caldwell, who lives in East Kilbride, said it was “phenomenal” news.

Shetland News reported last week that a dedicated room for those suffering baby loss is due to be installed in the Lerwick hospital this financial year.

At the moment women affected by miscarriage or baby loss are looked after within the maternity ward, in rooms potentially next door to those celebrating their new arrivals.

The hope is that a dedicated bereavement suite with a separate entrance will offer a more sensitive and private space.

There is also a hope that through extra training for staff less women may need to travel to Aberdeen for care after a loss.

The NHS says that among people who know they are pregnant, it is estimated about one in eight pregnancies will end in miscarriage.

Many more miscarriages happen before a person is even aware they are pregnant.

The NHS adds that stillbirth, which relates to babies after 24 weeks of pregnancy, happens in around one in every 200 births in England.

Caldwell has led her own campaign for dedicated baby loss facilities in Scottish hospitals for a number of years, and successfully secured a unit within her local facility in Wishaw.

She told Shetland News she was delighted to hear of a dedicated room also in line for the Gilbert Bain Hospital.

Caldwell lived in Shetland for a few years in the 2010s and sadly suffered two miscarriages whilst in the isles.

She said these were both managed at home, with no hospital admittance needed.

But the NHS Shetland maternity department also oversaw most of her pregnancy with her son Noah, who is now five years old.

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Gilbert Bain Hospital. Photo: Shetland News

She said: “The maternity is really lovely up there. The midwives are really great – really caring and positive.

“It is a small maternity, so to be in there with other women when you’re going through your loss is horrific compared to us in big massive hospitals down here.”

Caldwell said a key part of her campaign is about having women talk about baby loss, and not being scared to open up.

“It’s not just a place for going into deliver your baby and grieving,” she added. “It also opens up that ballgame for speaking and mental health as well.

“We shouldn’t be forced to keep it as a secret, there shouldn’t be this stigma attached.

“These rooms are so wonderful, and I really hope it gives women the courage to open up, because now it’s going to be visible.”

Caldwell’s campaign has the support within Scottish politics and the SNP’s last manifesto included a pledge to “ensure women’s services in NHS boards have dedicated facilities for women who are experiencing unexpected pregnancy complications”.

She is also due to go to Westminster in December to try to gain support for her taking her campaign beyond Scotland.

Caldwell said Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart and her party the Liberal Democrats were among the first to offer support in the parliament.

Wishart said on Monday that she welcomed the bereavement suite at the Gilbert Bain Hospital, and wished to thank NHS Shetland for “listening to the experiences of families and taking action”.

“The new suite will enable the hospital to care for families experiencing miscarriage and baby loss in a dedicated space, separate from the rest of the maternity services,” she said.

“This will improve the sensitivity of the care provided both practically and emotionally, and afford families the private space they need at a very sad and difficult time.

“I look forward to following its development.

“For anyone affected by miscarriage and baby loss, support is available through the charity Sands, which have a local Shetland group, and the NHS.”

Contact information for Shetland Sands can be found here, while more information on NHS Shetland’s maternity service is available here.

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