Tragically, 10 stillbirths are registered every day in the UK - but now special cuddle cots are helping families cope with their devastating loss When Kathriona Connelly lost her baby at 34 weeks, the pain she suffered was unimaginable. Her daughter Gloria was born prematurely, just hours after doctors broke the devastating news that they couldn't find a heartbeat.
There are no words to describe the agony of having to say hello and goodbye to your child all at once. Cuddle cots are a cooling mattress that stop the baby's body deteriorating, that can be placed in a cot or even a pram.
It allows parents to stay with them for days or even weeks before their funeral, hugging them, dressing them and taking them out for walks. Worryingly, Britain is ranked 33rd out of 35th in the developed world for its stillbirth rates due to problems including a lack of midwives, insufficient monitoring, infection and genetic conditions.
But in more than half of all cases, the cause of death is unknown. The loss of a child to still birth has been brought to the forefront by the recent harrowing storyline in Coronation Street where Kym Marsh's character, Michelle Connor, lost a child at 21 weeks , echoing Kym's devastating real-life experience in when she lost her son Archie at 23 weeks. The use of cuddle cots to help parents cope is becoming widely known, too.
Charlotte Szakacs, 21, and her husband Attila, 28, were heartbroken when their daughter Evlyn died four weeks after birth, after suffering severe health complications due to a rare chromosomal abnormality. The couple were able to stay with Eveyln for 16 days using a cuddle cot, and documented their time with her - even taking her on trips to the park in a pram and cuddling her.
Being able to do so many of the things you imagine, like taking her out in her pram really helped emotionally. When you have a stillborn baby it's a huge and brutal shock. You have expectations of what you will do with your baby, taking them home, bathing them, dressing them, reading them stories and introducing them to everyone. And it's all snatched away from you.
The sculpture was by sculpture by F V Blundstone. It can be specified to any size to make an existing bed into a safe environment.
It's the most devastating loss. The office worker - who lives in Dublin with her husband, Anthony McDonagh, 35, and three-year-old daughter Imelda - started having contractions at 34 weeks in April She rushed to hospital but when she arrived, doctors confirmed she was in labour but couldn't find her baby's heartbeat on the monitor.
It was the most surreal and harrowing thing I've ever had to do. But she just seemed so perfect that I couldn't stop sobbing — I wanted to hold her forever. They showed us how it worked and the temperature it should be at and then left us to grieve. We also brought our families to the hospital to say goodbye to her.
They all thought she was beautiful. It was incredibly sad and explaining it to Imelda was heart-wrenching. So I asked to have a bath with her. And as I sat cradling my daughter, I knew it was time to leave.
That's why cuddle cots are so important. Closer readers Holly Carter and Karen Jackson offered their stories, telling us what it meant to them to be able to use a cuddle cot. We had him in the room with us in a cold cot.
It meant we were able to spend time with him and hold him and cuddle him as much as we wanted. Sadly, his skin was so delicate we couldn't bathe him or dress him. The cold cot gave us some precious time with our son that we would not of been able to have otherwise. Those moments will be treasured forever. Being able to spend time with her and look at her beautiful face will stay with me forever.
As a mum, I wouldn't ever want any parent to miss out on a cuddle with their child regardless of the outcome. We both got to hold her, kiss her and talk to her. I guess unless you have been there, you wouldn't ever understand how precious those moments are.
The first and last time you will spend time with your baby. Erica, who sadly lost a baby herself, has worked at Sands for over 20 years, and even advised Coronation Street writers on the stillbirth storyline featuring Kym Marsh, who also suffered a late miscarriage herself.
View Gallery10 photos Getty Images What are cuddle cots?
A cuddle cot is a cooling pad which can be inserted into any type of baby bed — from Moses baskets to carry-cots, prams to cots — to allow the families of babies who have passed away time to grieve. Basically, they're just keeping the baby cool so that the baby's appearance doesn't change as quickly as it might do without a cuddle cot. Or if the baby or is a bit smaller, it could be placed onto a refrigerated mattress in the bottom of a Moses basket. The most popular cuddle cot at the moment is made by Flexmort , and has undergone extensive testing by hospitals to check for the possibility of infection and reduce the risk of microbial growth.
View Gallery10 photos Getty Images What is a cuddle cot used for? If a mother has suffered a late miscarriage or stillbirth, or if a baby has passed away later on after the birth, the family may want to use a cuddle cot to spend more time with and get to know their baby before the body is taken away.
When a baby dies in hospital, whether it's a stillbirth or a neonatal death, parents are now offered choices as to what they can do with their baby. It enables parents to spend longer with their baby before the baby's appearance starts to change.
A lot of hospitals' maternity units in the UK now have designated bereavement rooms for parents that are away from crying babies and pregnant women so that they can spend time with their baby and not feel rushed.
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