'Cuddle pockets' to offer support to parents of stillborn babies have been launched by the ambulance service covering Bedfordshire

The pockets have been donated by Cuddles UK

Thursday, 18th March 2021, 2:03 pm
Updated Thursday, 18th March 2021, 2:04 pm

The East of England Ambulance Service has introduced bespoke, handmade cuddle pockets so that stillborn babies can be transported to hospital with compassion and sensitivity.

The knitted pockets are designed for babies who are less than 24 weeks, who are placed inside and the ribbons tied together. The baby’s parents are then encouraged to hold their baby during the journey.

The East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) is responsible for providing NHS ambulance services in Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk.

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

EEAST is one of the first ambulance services in the country to begin using the pockets, which have been donated by non-profit organisation Cuddles UK.

Each is unique and has been handmade by volunteer knitters who are coordinated by Cuddles UK using Facebook.

The initiative has been introduced following feedback from patients and crews, and aims to make sure bereaved parents and their babies are treated with the highest levels of dignity.

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 are very grateful to Cuddles UK for supporting us, and to the members of our staff who 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: “The cuddle pockets will go a long way in helping make this experience less traumatising for patients as well as crews.”

A second added: “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.”

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

Wendy Matthews OBE, 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 upmost respect is so important.”