Rotorua Daily Post health and business reporter

Campaign for special room at hospital

Ashleigh French (pictured with partner Shane Morris) is fundraising for a special room at Rotorua Hospital for women who suffer stillbirths. PHOTO/FILE
Ashleigh French (pictured with partner Shane Morris) is fundraising for a special room at Rotorua Hospital for women who suffer stillbirths. PHOTO/FILE

A fundraising campaign is under way for a special birthing room at Rotorua Hospital - one that no mother wants to use.

Rotorua mother Ashleigh French has launched the campaign to set up a special room for families expecting stillborn infants.

Ms French, whose daughter Luka Pixie died just 20 minutes after birth, last year raised enough to buy the unit a cuddle cot - a special cooling device that fits inside a bassinet or basket to allow families of babies who have died to take them home for a short time.

Ms French said she was now focused on the next thing - a room to give families a private space to create memories with their babies.

The aim was to have the room "a little bit separate" from the birthing unit, but still close enough so women could give birth in it.

"We just want it a little less clinical. It's just about making memories of that time."

Unlike birthing rooms which might have posters about breastfeeding tips, or parenting advice, it would be designed especially for families who had suffered a loss, she said.

"It's about taking it away from expecting a live baby birth."

Ms French said she hoped to reach the $10,000 target in about a year.

Lakes District Health Board woman child and family service manager Donna Mayes said the Rotorua Hospital maternity team had been trying for many years to create a special place in the unit for women and families experiencing the tragedy of a stillborn infant.

"While the maternity team manages these situations with sensitivity and special care, they have always wanted to have a dedicated area in their unit in which to care for these families away from the hustle and bustle of the birthing unit."

Ms Mayes said senior management had indicated a willingness to work with the maternity team to identify and fit out a suitable space near the birthing unit, but private enough to cater for the sensitive nature of the families' circumstances.

"The unit is delighted to have the support of Ashleigh French, a fellow health professional who has personal experience of this type of tragic birth outcome.

"Ashleigh's support of the maternity unit is very much appreciated and we are looking forward to working with her as we develop this very special place in Rotorua Hospital."

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