18th December 2019

A bear hug is all parents now need to hear their baby’s
heartbeat when they have to leave them on the neonatal unit.

Heartbeat bears are the latest initiative from Leo’s, a
charity which supports families of sick and premature babies across the region.

In a bid to help reduce the separation anxiety faced by parents
having to leave their baby on a neonatal ward, Leo’s, with the help of Kalma Baby and Window To The Womb, are now able to provide bears for every family on the neonatal units at The University Hospital of North Durham Hospital, Darlington Memorial Hospital and Sunderland Royal Hospital.

These special bears contain an internal device which allows
neonatal professionals to record baby’s heartbeat, so parents can then take these bears home to cuddle when they can’t be with their baby on the ward.

Not only will these bears be used to reduce separation
anxiety, they will also be used to comfort parents whose baby requires end of life care on the neonatal unit at the James Cook University Hospital as part of the charity’s bereavement support.

The project, which has been funded through fundraising
events by one of the charity’s corporate partners, Kalma Baby, is the first of its kind for the region.

Rebecca Riley, Owner of Kalma Baby, said: “Having had two
premature babies myself, I know first-hand how scary it can be to leave your baby every day to go home, especially when they’re needing life-saving treatment.

“We had to be involved in fundraising for this project, we
fell in love with this idea and the work Leo’s does. Knowing we can help
families even more with these bears is incredibly special.”

Kalma Baby is an award-winning provider of antenatal, baby
and children’s yoga across the North East, and has also launched dedicated neonatal yoga classes, in conjunction with Leo’s, for families when they come home from the neonatal unit.

Leo’s founder, Lottie King, said: “We feel very privileged
to be able to offer this service to our families across the region. Being able to also support families through the heartbreak of baby loss with this project is something very close to all of us at Leo’s.”

Julie Sanderson, neonatal senior nurse, said: “Parents are welcome to stay with their babies and we have facilities for them to do so, but when they do need to leave them, perhaps to care for other children at home, it can be distressing. 

Heartbeat bears offer comfort to parents and are an excellent, original way for them to feel close to their baby.  It’s important we do all we can to support the whole family at what can be an anxious time.”

Iona Harries, registered midwife, and owner of the Window To The Womb, which has three clinics based in Middlesbrough, Darlington and Durham, said: “In our diagnostic scan clinics, the well-being of mum and baby is paramount. When the team at Leo’s contacted us to work with them on this project it was the perfect partnership. It’s a privilege to be working with Leo’s, and it’s great to see the difference our bears will
make to so many families.”

Leo's Neonatal

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