The loss of a baby during pregnancy or shortly after birth is inevitably devastating for Mum, Dad and those closest to them, too.
Immediately after, during some of the most difficult days of their lives, parents often find themselves in hospital. Usually the place where they’re offered sanctuary is close to a busy maternity ward, together with all the noises associated with it, which is perhaps not the best of places for Mum to recover physically and for both parents to come to terms with their loss.
While we know that surroundings won’t be able to take the sadness of losing a baby away for anybody involved, we know that they can provide some much needed calm, quiet and comfort for parents when they’re spending time with their babies before saying goodbye and, over the last few years, we’re proud to have worked with a number of charities and hospitals to create dedicated spaces that support parents who find themselves going through this most difficult of situations.
Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Glasgow
SimBA, a charity that supports women and families through the loss of a baby during pregnancy and stillbirth, approached us to help them create a better space for bereaved parents to spend time with their babies at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Glasgow. The charity, along with the hospital, already had plenty of ideas on how they wanted the rooms to look and feel and they turned to us to bring them together to create a calm and comforting environment.
Working with everyone involved, and incorporating an array of ideas, we redesigned two rooms; an overnight room that provided accommodation for bereaved parents, and; ‘The Butterfly Room’, a tranquil respite space that allowed mums, dads and families to begin to come to terms with their loss privately, away from the main maternity wards.
We incorporated a soft, muted colour scheme with accents of purple into our designs, in order to create peaceful and calming atmospheres and added carefully selected wall graphics, inspired by nature, to help the room feel less like a hospital and more like a private, comforting retreat.
Leicester General Hospital
As well as creating a comforting space for bereaved parents in Glasgow, we also worked with Leicester Hospitals Charity to create a suite of rooms that were designed to support the parents and families of stillborn babies in Leicester General Hospital. Much like the project in Glasgow, our primary focus was to create a space that felt less like a clinical environment and more like a sanctuary for bereaved parents, away from the main maternity ward so that parents weren’t put in the potentially distressing position of being able to hear other newborns.
We worked with nursing staff and hospital management, along with women who had suffered the loss of a baby shortly after birth, to redesign three rooms in a way that would accommodate the needs of the parents and provide them with a safe space in which to begin to grieve.
We used soft, warm and comforting colours together with soft lighting throughout each of the three rooms to create a homely feel. Other features like wood-effect flooring were installed in place of the standard vinyl that is usually found throughout wards to reinforce the comfort-above-clinical feel that we wanted the rooms to exude. As well as using a soothing and considered colour scheme, we also incorporated artwork depicting a seed head; ward staff chose this particular image for its fitting symbolism of life coming to an end and continuing at the same time.
Even though the suite was designed not to feel like a hospital, it was important that the room still functioned clinically too, to support the mothers’ medical needs. So that the function didn’t take away from the feel, we designed the bedhead services to blend into the background, rather than become a prominent feature, allowing nurses and other healthcare staff to be able to do their jobs.
Thanks to our involvement with Grosvenor Interiors and gifts from our generous supporters, Leicester Hospitals Charity has had a significant impact on patient environment within the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust. Several key areas inside our Hospitals have been given a “facelift” with the use of colour, design and bespoke furniture. We have formed a good working relationship with Grosvenor who have created quality branding and themes we are proud of and more importantly, have made a huge difference to our patients stay and well-being.
– Debbie Alderstein, Leicester Hospitals Charity
One of the most important aspects of this project was, of course, making sure that the emotional needs of the parents were supported. One of the most important features in a maternity bereavement suite is the nursery area, where parents can spend time with their baby before saying goodbye. As part of the grieving process, mothers often want to see their baby more than once so, instead of creating a separate room, we created a nursery that was separated by a soft curtain that could be pulled across whenever the parents wanted it to be and left open to keep their baby close to them, too.
Losing a baby during pregnancy or shortly after is a devastating experience for any parent to go through and we understand that little will feel like comfort to those who find themselves in such a situation. By providing a better place for mothers to recover physically and a better place for both parents to say goodbye to their baby and begin the grieving focus we can, at least, help them take the difficult first steps on their healing journey.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can create spaces that support your patients’ emotional needs through some of the most difficult of times, as well as supporting them clinically, get in touch with the team today.