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New Bereavement Midwife “invaluable” to Trust

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A new midwifery role at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust (WWL) is proving to be “invaluable” for women and their families at the most heart breaking of times.

Sarah Howard, WWL’s very first Bereavement Midwife has been in post for over six months, becoming a single point of contact for all women and their families when a pregnancy loss is expected or diagnosed.

One family who can certainly advocate for the role is the Outterside family.

Rebecca Outterside from Wigan, whose twins, Georgina and Harriette, were born at 22 weeks at Wigan Infirmary, was part of the interview panel to recruit to the newly-established post and found being involved helped to come to terms with her loss.

Rebecca, who gave birth to her and husband Tom’s third daughter, Matilda Hope in October 2019, said: “Following the loss of Georgina and Harriette, the support that Tom and I received from WWL was fantastic. It was a heart breaking situation to find ourselves in but I can honestly say that help is available.

“Despite not having a Bereavement Midwife position in post when we suffered our loss, our midwife at the time, Joanne Birch, acted in this role for us.

“Joanne really got to know us both throughout this difficult time and she invited me to partake in the interview panel, recognising the way in which this would help me come to terms with my loss, whilst also preparing the way for others to receive help and improve the service in the future.”

Rebecca added: “While the interview process was highly emotional, I really enjoyed the experience. I strongly feel that by taking part I have truly helped other families like Tom and I in the future.

“Having a dedicated bereavement midwife in post at Wigan will really help those who not only suffer pregnancy loss, which is crucial, but hopefully experience pregnancy after loss too.”

Since her commencement in the role, Sarah has set up a pregnancy and baby loss support group that meets every month, while also developing plans for a ‘Rainbow Clinic’ to support families who go on to have babies after a loss.

Sarah said: “The aim of the clinic is to provide a continuity of care for women and their families who go on to have subsequent pregnancies after a loss.

“This is so that they know the staff they are seeing know their stories in addition to providing a single point of contact for women and their partners.”

Sarah will also be the main provider of outpatient care and will support midwives with training and support as well as working in partnership with other services across the Wigan borough including local GPs, the mortuary service and registrar’s office.

Head of Midwifery, Fiona Bryant, said: The loss of a baby can be devastating for parents and their families and the role of a Bereavement Midwife is key to ensuring that care is designed to meet the needs of each individual family.

“In offering support and guidance at what can feel like a very confusing time the role is there to offer additional support once a loss has been identified and for those families who choose to have a baby after a loss.

“We are proud to be able to support our rainbow families and know the introduction of the Sarah’s role has been invaluable.”

WWL is celebrating the Trust’s various nursing and midwifery roles throughout 2020 as part of the first ever International Year of the Nurse and Midwife

Nations of the world will unite this year in celebration of the benefits that nursing and midwifery staff bring to the health of the global population and work to address staff shortages.

For more information visit www.who.int/campaigns/year-of-the-nurse-and-the-midwife-2020

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