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EK mum who had to deliver stillborn baby in labour ward wins battle for new unit

An East Kilbride mum who has battled to get dedicated facilities in maternity units for women who suffer complications has described the “rollercoaster” of emotions on hearing her campaign will bring about change.

Louise Caldwell had to endure the heartbreak of delivering her stillborn baby in a labour ward in 2019 after a 12-week scan revealed the little one she was carrying didn’t have a heartbeat.

The trauma endured by Louise, 38, and her husband, Craig, as well countless other women across the country saw her start her campaign and launch a petition last year which has secured over 28,000 signatures.

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Now both the Scottish Government and NHS Lanarkshire have confirmed that they are working towards dedicated miscarriage facilities and signposting mums to the correct services – with the policy included in the Government’s Women’s Health Plan this week.

Louise, from The Murray, told Lanarkshire Live : “I was completely overwhelmed when I heard that this was now government policy and NHS Lanarkshire said plans were in place.

EK mum who had to deliver stillborn baby in labour ward wins battle for new unit
Louise with husband Craig

“It has been a rollercoaster of emotions – from grief on losing my little one, to anger and frustration and feeling like giving up. But what a massive change this will be and a positive one.

“So many women contacted me who have been through the same thing – I was completely breaking my heart every time I heard their stories.

“For one woman it happened to her in 1988 and she was still grieving to this day – how could this still be happening so many years later?

“I feel this is some positivity to come from my family’s loss, for all the women who have suffered and every baby lost.”

EK mum who had to deliver stillborn baby in labour ward wins battle for new unit
Louise pictured with sons Cody (13) Aaron (10) and Noah (4)

She added: “I never dreamed I would get so much support. I’m just one woman from East Kilbride. But this is down to everyone who has spoken out – we are all in this together.

“One in four women go through a miscarriage, this is a quarter of all mothers to be and one in every 250 pregnancies ends in a still birth in the UK – that’s eight babies every day.

“No woman past, present or future should have to deal with the emotional upset of being in the labour ward where you are met with new born baby photos on walls, thank you cards, baby cries and proud partners.

“Nothing could have prepared us for that walk through the corridor to get out of the labour ward – clutching a memory box and not my baby. It was one of the longest walks of our life.”

Her battle even went to Holyrood after MSP Beatrice Wishart, from the Liberal Democrats, highlighted Louise’s petition in Holyrood as part of the debate on Women’s Health.

The party included dedicated facilities for perinatal care as a policy within their manifesto after local Councillor Fiona Dryburgh backed Louise’s campaign.

While “delighted” by the latest development, she said she is “disappointed that the SNP have not committed to dates or definite details of dedicated facilities” and worried that they have “not prioritised it”.

MP Dr Lisa Cameron is presenting Louise with an Early Day Motion from the House of Commons this week.

She said: “Louise has taken a tragic situation and turned it into a national campaign that is now being progressed by Government – having experienced traumatic miscarriage myself I am absolutely certain that dedicated miscarriage facilities will make a huge difference to the care and treatment of those grieving in child loss”.

EK MSP Collette Stevenson also welcomed the change and the success of the campaign.

Cheryl Clark, chief midwife at Wishaw General, said the loss of any baby is “tragic and is a very distressing” for families.

Cheryl added: “At this time, it is standard practice that all women give birth in the labour ward.

“However, we recognise location in which parents receive care is something that can significantly influence their experience.

“With this in mind, we are moving towards a model where all women who suffer loss will be cared for in our Ohana suite, which is a soundproofed suite away from labour ward.

“While no facilities can lessen the grief and anguish bereaved parents may feel, we know how important well-designed bereavement rooms and suites are to ensure that appropriate care is delivered in the most sensitive environment possible.”

A Scottish Government spokesman added: “We are committed to establishing a dignified, compassionate miscarriage service tailored to the needs of women.

“The aim is to support the development of individualised care plans after a woman’s first miscarriage and ensure maternity departments have dedicated facilities for women who are experiencing unexpected pregnancy complications.”

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