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Cuddle pockets: East of England Ambulance Service's new initiative for grieving parents of unborn babies

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Babies in Hertfordshire and Essex lost in the first 24 weeks of pregnancy can now be transported to hospital with compassion and sensitivity thanks to 'cuddle pockets'.

The foetus is placed inside the bespoke, handmade, knitted pouch and the ribbons tied so parents can cradle their child during the journey.

East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) is one of the first services in the country to begin using the pockets, which have been donated by non-profit organisation Cuddles UK. Each is unique and been handmade by volunteer knitters who are co-ordinated by Cuddles UK using Facebook.

Jenni McClagish, patient safety specialist with EEAST, with a cuddle pocket
Jenni McClagish, patient safety specialist with EEAST, with a cuddle pocket

The initiative has been introduced following feedback from patients and crews.

Daimon Wheddon, clinical lead for the project, said: "We know just how difficult the loss of a baby can be for both the parents and for the crews who attend, and wanted to do what we could to make the journey to hospital less distressing for everyone.

"Thankfully, cuddle pockets will not be needed very often. But when they are, they can make such a difference for the patient and our crews.

"We're very grateful to Cuddles UK for supporting us and to the members of our staff who have given up their time to knit these unique pockets."

Feedback from crews who have used the pockets so far has been positive. One staff member said: "It made a huge difference, especially for the mum who had something unique for her baby to rest in on the way to hospital. Cuddle pockets give us a dignified way to transport babies who are born too early."

Another added: "The cuddle pockets will go a long way in helping make this experience less traumatising for patients as well as crews."

Wendy Matthews, regional chief midwife, said: "Treating any pregnancy loss in a dignified and compassionate way is so vital to improving the experience of families when they suffer a tragedy.

"The cuddle pockets also allow the ambulance crew dealing with these situations to give care in a sensitive way. For parents, knowing that their babies are being treated with the utmost respect is so important."

Cuddle pockets are available on all 700 of EEAST's ambulances and ambulance officer vehicles.

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