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Ambulance service introduces ‘cuddle pockets’ for grieving parents to take miscarried babies to hospital with dignity

Handmade ‘cuddle pockets’ designed to help parents cope with the trauma of losing a baby have been rolled out across London Ambulance Service.

The knitted pouches, created by charity Blue Lights Babies*, will enable staff to convey babies born too soon in a dignified way and allow bereaved families to hold their baby after birth and in the ambulance.

Nicola Jones (left) holding a cuddle pocket alongside Camella Main (right)
Nicola Jones (left) holding a cuddle pocket alongside Camella Main (right)

Advanced paramedic Nicola Jones worked alongside lead midwife Camella Main to launch the pockets – drawing on her own experience of baby loss to drive the project forward.

Nicola said: “I have a personal experience of losing a baby and I know a lot of others do too.

“At the time of my loss, I really struggled going from paramedic to patient. The change left me feeling incredibly vulnerable and I often felt very alone during the experience and as I tried to come to terms with the loss.

“The moment I saw the pockets I really understood the impact they could have. I knew from a patient’s perspective the difference they would make.”

The cuddle pockets will now be included in the maternity packs carried in every ambulance across the Service.

A cuddle pocket now being used across LAS

In the last year London Ambulance Service clinicians attended 1,100 patients experiencing miscarriage or suspected miscarriage.

Camella said: “As a midwife, supporting bereaved parents is a core aspect of our role. Listening to what they need during this really difficult time is essential.

“My colleagues and I have seen for ourselves that giving parents time to hold their babies born too soon can be a crucial step in their recovery.”

As well as introducing the cuddle pockets, London Ambulance Service has trained staff in how to support families. The training has been co-designed with parents that have experienced baby loss to support appropriate communication and memory-making.

Camella said “I’m really pleased London Ambulance Service is helping to give parents the dignity they rightly deserve and show empathy in these truly horrific moments they experience in the wake of baby loss.”

Sadly Nicola knows only too well the impact when this goes wrong.

She said: “I visited several GPs in the months following my own loss and was often asked to repeat my experience and was even asked to present proof of my miscarriage.

“This increased my fear and anxiety about returning to work. But I’m using my experiences to try to help others when they need it most.”

Notes for editors:

The maternity team in London Ambulance Service was established in 2013.

Women needing an ambulance during and after pregnancy are often vulnerable and can experience health inequality and worse outcomes.

The maternity team focuses on training ambulance crews and ensuring they have the right equipment and pathways; supporting call handlers; reviewing incidents; and identifying learning and improvement projects.

*Blue Light Babies is a group of knitters which creates the pockets and donates them to ambulance trusts across the UK.

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