Maternity ward welcomes supporters overnight thanks to new chairs

Posted Wednesday, March 6, 2024 9:02 PM

Maternity ward welcomes supporters overnight thanks to new chairs

People who give birth at King’s Mill Hospital in Sutton-in-Ashfield now have the opportunity for a partner or supporter to stay overnight to provide extra support.

Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has listened to and acted on feedback from new families about how their birthing experience could be improved.

As a result, 47 recliners – one for every room and bay on the post-natal ward – have been provided thanks to equal funding from Sherwood Forest Hospitals Charity and Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Local Maternity and Neonatal System (LMNS). 

Fathers/partners staying overnight can be coached to offer skin-to-skin contact with their babies and to build strong bonds from the earliest opportunity. With the help of staff, supporters can learn about and assist women/birthing people to get breastfeeding/chestfeeding off to a good start. The new policy could help improve health outcomes and reduce health inequalities, particularly for those who don’t speak English as their first language.

Holly Fishwick and her husband Matthew were delighted that he was able to stay overnight following the birth of their son Cove.

Matthew, who lives in Clipstone, said: “This has made our lives a lot easier. I can’t imagine what it would have been like having to go home at night.

“The chair fully reclines into a flat bed and is really comfortable, meaning I’m well rested. I can bond with Cove, change nappies and do simple things to support Holly, like refill her water bottle. Without the extra support of having me here, I don’t think Holly would still be breastfeeding, which is something she really wanted to do.”

The Trust worked in partnership with the Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Maternity Voices Partnership (MVP) on the project which was led by Tilly Paul, Ward leader, and Matron Lisa Foster.

Emma Lambert, MVP volunteer, joined the working group after her son was born at King’s Mill Hospital in 2018.

She said: “We live 45 minutes away so thankfully my husband was able to stay but he was incredibly uncomfortable in a regular chair and didn’t get much sleep. I think these new chairs and updated guidance will make a huge difference to lots of families.”

The decision about whether a partner or supporter can stay overnight is that of the woman/birthing person along with ward staff. Anyone who is staying must sign an agreement designed to keep the wards friendly, calm and safe.

Gemma Boyd, Consultant Midwife at Sherwood Forest Hospitals, said: “We recognise that having a partner or trusted supporter to stay can help with family bonding and reduce anxiety and stress.

“This decision is about supporting personalised choice - there is no expectation for someone to have a partner or supporter to stay overnight.

“We’ll do what we can to facilitate everyone’s wishes and anyone who has any concerns should speak to a member of staff.

“Ward staff will continue to be available to support and care for all women/birthing people and babies overnight.”

People who are staying are asked not to leave and re-enter the ward overnight for the safety, security and comfort of all women/birthing people, babies and staff.

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