Parents Jo and David Ward, who set up a charity after their first child was stillborn, have welcomed a new bereavement suite at Medway Maritime Hospital.
The Rochester couple contributed to the design of the £40,000 private area where parents who have lost their baby at birth can have time and space to grieve.
Jo Ward with three-year-old Reuben and Betty, aged two
This year, 64 mothers have given birth to stillborn babies at Medway.
With help from SANDS, a stillbirth and neo-natal death charity, work began on the suite in the maternity unit last week and will be finished by the end of February.
It has been funded by Medway NHS Foundation Trust and will include soundproofed walls to ensure grieving parents are not exposed to the sound of crying babies or families celebrating the birth of a child.
Calming colours and soft furnishings will be used to create a comfortable setting complete with kitchenette and en suite bathroom.
Medway Maritime Hospital in Gillingham
The aim is to provide a private and peaceful place of solace. Mothers will be able to give birth in the room when it is known a baby has died, and are welcome to stay enabling them to spend time with their baby as they say goodbye.
Four and a half years ago David and Jo’s daughter Abigail was stillborn. The couple, who now have a son Reuben, three and daughter Bethany, two, launched Abigail’s Footsteps, a charity in memory of their daughter.
They are drawing on their personal experience to increase awareness and improve bereavement training among medical staff and funeral directors.
Mr Ward, 45, managing director of a security company in Strood, and Mrs Ward, 34, who runs Abigail’s Bridalwear near Maidstone, have just released a short film, The Deafening Silence, a mother’s eye view of stillbirth.
Mr Ward said: “At first I was anxious that the suite was in the maternity ward. But I understand the walls are sound-proofed. This is a good start but we would like to see more at Medway.
“We are also pleased to see improved training for midwives and other staff. .”