Jessops hospital’s intensive care unit is one of the UK’S leading facilities of its kind and with help of donations also offers much more for patients and relatives.
Having a baby is usually the happiest time in a couple’s lives, but also the most stressful.
Around 8,000 babies are born at the Jessop Wing hospital each year, a purpose-built maternity hospital which supports thousands of families from Sheffield, Yorkshire and the rest of the UK through all stages of pregnancy, from conception to care after birth.
The majority of pregnancies and births progress with no complications – but sometimes a baby needs the specialist support of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, or NICU.
For 700 babies born at Jessops each year, the first few days, and sometimes months, are critical.
They require 24-hour care and every day is a struggle for the baby and their parents.
The NICU at Jessops is one of the country’s leading facilities of its kind, with access to specialist equipment and staff expertise unavailable in many local hospitals.
With the help of fundraising and charity donations, Sheffield Hospitals Charity provides further support at a time when some of the UK’s tiniest and most critically ill patients and their families need it the most.
One of the most welcomed facilities has been the development of family accommodation, made up of four flats within five minutes’ walk of the hospital.
Some families, particularly those who live outside of the city, have to worry about where they will stay, how they will pay for it and whether they would be able to get back to the hospital in an emergency.
When their baby is poorly they just want to stay as close as possible to them. These flats offer a lifeline during a stressful and emotionally draining time, but would not have been possible without charity cash.
Sheffield Hospitals Charity has also funded special ‘glide away’ beds for the six parent rooms, meaning dads can stay with their partners.
Having the father present just after birth is important as it helps with family bonding. It also means they can provide emotional support so mums are able to rest at a time that can be an emotional rollercoaster.
A twin incubator has been bought after research showed twins can develop better if kept together, specialist breast pumps help mums of premature and sick babies express their milk and each year a good supply of tiny premature-sized baby clothes is bought, as it can be many weeks before babies grow enough to fit into the sizes found in most shops.
These are just some examples of charity-funded specialist items important for the care and health of a poorly baby. But sometimes, the smallest things can make a positive memory fora family during a very difficult time.
Jenna Randall knows first hand how important little touches are, after her baby Isabella was born 10 weeks early, weighing just 3lb 12oz.
Isabella spent nearly two months on NICU and received treatment over the Christmas period, which Jenna found particularly hard.
She said: “Christmas Day was one of the most difficult days. I couldn’t think of anything worse than not having our baby girl at home with us on the best day of the year.
“But on Christmas morning I was absolutely amazed – each baby had a sack full of gifts and there were gifts for parents and older siblings too. One of the gifts I received was a framed photo of Isabella which made me cry. These little things made a horrible situation more bearable.”
Jenna, like so many families, has been well supported by NICU staff, including access to charity-funded family support nurse Sandra Brown.
Sandra helps parents deal with their baby’s stressful journey through the unit by providing information, emotional support and practical advice.
She said: “I work with families in need of support. I have no clinical responsibilities, meaning I am free to focus solely on providing advice to families of vulnerable babies.
“This may be one-to- one support for breastfeeding and expressing milk, supporting skin-to- skin holding, or just talking about their baby.
“I’m often the first and last person parents come into contact with at NICU. If I know a mum will be having a premature baby, I help to prepare them by introducing myself and the unit so it becomes less daunting.
“I also provide advice to families for when it’s time to take their baby home. Many babies spend weeks, or even months on NICU, so parents are anxious about taking them home. We have an excellent team of community nurses, so the care does not end there.
“Thanks to funding from supporters of Sheffield Hospitals Charity I can do a job where I can make a genuine difference.
“I have had some lovely thank-you cards and letters from parents thanking me for my help during those difficult times.”
*Around 8,000 babies are born at the Jessop each year
* Around 700 babies per year require the support of NICU
* To make a donation to support families in the Jessop Wing, visit Sheffield Hospital Charity-Jessops Appeal or text JESSOPS to 70660 to donate £3 to support babies and their families.