Tuesday 20 November 2018

Grieving Irish families can now bring 'cold cots' home after death of newborns

Grieving Irish families can now bring 'cold cots' home after death of newborns. Image: Getty
Grieving Irish families can now bring 'cold cots' home after death of newborns. Image: Getty

Amy Mulvaney

Grieving Irish families who have lost a newborn baby will now have access to "cold cots" in their homes.

Chairperson of the Association for Improvements in the Maternity Services in Ireland (AIMSI), Krysia Lynch, told Independent.ie that families who have lost a baby either just before, during or just after birth can now have access to a cold cot, so that they can spend time with the baby before they are ready to say goodbye.

"The maternity unit should have a bereavement liaison midwife and other specialist services, protocols and procedures in order to support families in the immediate time after a loss," explained Ms Lynch.

"Ideally, a family will have access to a dedicated area with a communal space in which they can have other relatives come and sit and share a cup of tea or a light meal and have an opportunity to hold and spend time with their baby over several days."

"There should be access to a cold cot, so the baby's short life can be preserved until his or her family is ready to say goodbye and also there should be access to photographic services, and information on preserving baby memories, such as the memory boxes provided by the Little Lifetime Foundation."

"Irish charity Feileacain provides families with a cold cot to take their baby home from the hospital if they wish. Spending time with the baby at hospital and at home are two very different experiences. It gives family and friends who may be unable to come to the hospital an extra opportunity to hold the baby and allows the family to have more time with them."

Ms Lynch said that after losing a child at or shortly after birth, a selection of supports are available to families.

"Families may need support in so many areas; emotional support, practical support, legal support, medical support and psychological support. Some of these supports can be provided by those who are near and dear to the family, although knowing what to say and how to support a loved one can sometimes leaves families at a loss."

"Feileacain and The Little Lifetime Foundation can provide peer support, practical support and guidance on how to make memories to last a lifetime, and we here at AIMSI can offer support with questions surrounding the care mother and baby received."

"The lack of appropriate maternity service training and handling of bereavement was highlighted by the case of Rosin and Mark Molloy at Midland Regional Hospital in Portlaoise in the HIQA report of 2014," said Ms Lynch.

"As a result of their case,  National Standards for Bereavement Care following pregnancy were introduced by Minister of Health Simon Harris in August 2016 and National Standards for Better Safer Maternity Care was launched by the Minister in December 2016.

"We certainly hope that the timely adoption of these standards and their continuing audit will ensure that bereaved parents in Ireland have the best evidenced base care following such an unwished for event."

Meanwhile, a couple who spent 16 days with their baby girl after she died at four weeks old have shared heartbreaking images of their short time together, during which they brought her on a walk in the park and took her home, highlighting the devastating grief of losing a newborn.

Charlotte and Attila Szakacs, based in York, England, spent 16 days with their four-week-old daughter Evlyn after she passed away from a  rare chromosomal abnormality on January 10.

A cold cot allowed the Charlotte and Attila to dress and spend time with Evlyn at home and in the hospice before her funeral on January 26 and the couple have since shared photos of their short time together with their baby.

If you've been affected by this article or storyline, you can contact Feileacain on 0852496464 or feileacain.ie.

For information on all aspects of maternity care, visit aimsireland.ie.

The A Little Lifetime charity offers support to parents on how to create a memory box and how to cope with a baby death. For more information, visit alittlelifetime.ie.

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