New service keeps babies and families together

More parents with babies who would previously have been admitted to the Neonatal Unit at Forth Valley Royal Hospital are now able to avoid being separated thanks to the introduction of a new service which aims to keep parents and babies together. The service has also led to a 20% reduction in the number of babies who require to be admitted to the Neonatal Unit.

The Transitional Care service, set up following the launch of the Scottish Government’s Best Start Maternity and Neonatal Strategy, has been operating for a year at Forth Valley Royal Hospital, and according to NHS Forth Valley Department Manager/Senior Midwife Kirsty MacInnes, feedback from parents has been very encouraging.

Transitional Care offers support to babies who have additional care needs that would previously have been admitted to the Neonatal Unit. This includes babies who find it difficult to suck and require nasogastric tube feeds, babies with lower birth weights and babies who arrive a little

early. Having access to this service helps to support stronger bonding as the babies no longer require to be separated from their mothers while having care and lays the foundation for future relationships.

Previously around 300 babies were admitted to the Neonatal Unit at Forth Valley Royal Hospital from the Labour Ward. This applied to babies smaller than 2kg (4lbs 6 ozs) and those less than 36 weeks gestation.  A baby weighing 1.6 kg (3lbs 8 ozs) and more than 34 weeks gestation can now stay with their mother in the hospital’s Postnatal Ward where they will receive additional care and support, in line with locally developed criteria based on the BAPM Framework for Neonatal Transitional Care.

Kirsty MacInnes said: “The staff in the Neonatal Unit, Labour Suite and Postnatal Ward, have all come together to make this new service a success. All the staff groups have worked so hard to keep families together.

“Local parents, neonatal and midwifery staff work together to produce a treatment plan, which supports family centred care and ensures parents are fully involved in the care of their baby.   Some babies who have been admitted to the Neonatal Unit can also be transferred to Transitional Care to be cared for by parents within our Postnatal Ward prior to going home.  The length of time in Transitional Care can vary, with some babies remaining for a week to 10 days.”

Professor Ann Holmes, Chief Midwifery Officer, Scottish Government, added: “Keeping mothers and newborn babies together as much as possible after delivery is one of the key aims of Best Start so it’s great to see that the new arrangements in NHS Forth Valley are helping to achieve this by significantly reducing the number of babies who require to be admitted to their local Neonatal Unit.”

Mum Caitlyn Gardner from Stirling, (pictured with her baby Rory Vincent, Dad Ryan Aimer, and Senior Midwife Heather Clark), said Transitional Care had been invaluable. Rory, who was born at

34 weeks and five days, and weighed 4lbs 9 and a half ounces, had his nasogastric tube removed after a week and was taking his mum’s milk.  Caitlyn said: “Transitional Care has been amazing. I am young and I would have been lost without this. It has also helped us develop a strong bond with our baby.”

Feedback from other parents:

The care has been second to none and the ability to keep our little family together throughout has made a massive difference to our ability to cope with everything. The Transitional Care service and staff have been a godsend.”

“Staff were exceptional throughout our stay and supported us completely at our lowest ebb. We will never forget the kindness, compassion and expertise demonstrated by every single staff member.”