Wigan woman praises new premature mums and babies unit

Sarah and Richard with twins Ben and Poppy
Sarah and Richard with twins Ben and Poppy

A mum of twins has praised a new unit designed to support keeping Wigan mothers and their premature babies together.

New parents Sarah Halshall and Richard Darbyshire, from Hindley, were the first couple to stay on Wrightington Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust’s new Neonatal Transitional Care Unit (NTCU) following the birth of Ben and Poppy on October 28.

The unit allows premature babies to be cared for primarily by parents, alongside support from neonatal nursing and midwifery staff, who will be on hand to care for and support the mothers of the babies on the ward.

Babies who are born between 35 and 37 weeks will be put on the NTCU, as well as babies that are born after 37 weeks who need extra support; however, if the baby is born before 35 weeks, they will be cared for in the trust’s neonatal department.

Sarah whose children weighed just under 5lb each following IVF treatment at Fertility Fusion, based at Wrightington Hospital, said the unit has been a blessing for the new family.

“I felt as if I wasn’t missing out on anything as I knew they were right next to me. I couldn’t even imagine if I had to leave them at the hospital whilst I went home, so being able to stay with them has been brilliant.”

“Everyone has been amazing with my little family and I’m so grateful for the ward. It has made my time here a lot easier,” she said.

Catherine Hargreaves, neonatal unit outreach manager, said: “The main aim for the new ward is for parents to be fully involved in their baby’s care.

Babies that require transitional care need a little more support than babies on the postnatal ward, however they are well enough not to need admission to the Neonatal Unit.

“The length of stay on the ward really depends on the baby’s progression. Most babies in transitional care will remain an inpatient approximately for four days, however this stay maybe longer or shorter.”

The new unit officially opened in August, and in October, it was fully established, with three families already experiencing the new transitional care.

New-born Isla, also had a stay on the transitional care ward with her mum Rebecca and dad Marc Liptrot. Isla was born on October 31 weighing 6lbs 4oz. The new family were ready for discharge the day after Isla was born, however the midwives noticed that there was a bit of discolouring on her feet.

“It was really stressful for us, knowing that I had to leave my daughter and wife here, it was heart-breaking,” said Marc. “This ward has helped us all, especially Rebecca. The visiting times are really flexible, so I am able to come and visit them both all day.”

The ward currently holds four beds, with a member of staff monitoring the room and is based on the maternity ward, allowing families to have their own space but still feel part of the ward.

“Even though there are only three families on here, I feel like we are one little family who can all relate to each other. It makes the time easier, especially when we are in here for long periods of time.” said Lauren, who gave birth to her little girl, Renee, on November 4.

Renee, Lauren Keogh’s third child, was born at 36 weeks. They had a stay on the new unit due to Renee struggling with breathing and feeding and suffering with jaundice, a discolouring in the skin or eyes.

“My labour was very quick so it all happened at once,” said Lauren, “I am very grateful to be able to have my baby girl next to me. All the staff, from the cleaners to the doctors, have been amazing with us. They speak to you like they know you, and you’re not just a patient.”