Sarah, 37 from Farnham, kindly shared her story with us following her youngest son Edward’s recent stay in the hospital's Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU). Edward spent 10 days in the unit following his birth in March. Despite receiving what she describes as “amazing care”, Sarah says the hardest part was not being able to stay with her newborn baby on the unit overnight.

Sarah on how it felt to leave her baby in our Special Care Baby Unit overnight

I came in for a scan to check everything was okay and we found out Edward had no water around him so they needed to get him out quickly. I had an emergency caesarean section. I had no idea at this stage that we’d need to stay in any longer than a normal C-section, but they found a knot in the umbilical cord so he was taken straight from theatre and brought to SCBU stabilise him. I met him for five seconds and then I didn’t see him again for nine hours until I could get out of bed to visit from the postnatal ward.

It was quite scary seeing him like that – in the incubator with all the wires around him. My three other labours with Edward’s brothers were all very straightforward and so I hadn’t expected it at all. My last birth was a homebirth in water, which was just amazing and the best experience, so that’s what I was expecting again: it couldn’t have gotten any further from that, really.

The staff in SCBU were absolutely amazing. I think you have to be a special kind of person to work in special care. They do everything they possibly can to help you be involved in your baby's care.

But being away from Edward at night is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. It just didn’t feel natural to be away from him. I was on a bay with lots of other mums who all had their babies with them and it was very upsetting and very isolating – to hear another baby crying at night and to not be able to hold or be near my own little baby…that was heartbreaking.

It would have made such a difference to our whole family if either Edward’s dad or I could have stayed with him overnight.

For me, the pain from my caesarean went away when I was holding Edward – I didn’t hurt when I was with him and I didn’t need pain medication. And I know it wasn’t just like that for me – when Edward was in the incubator, he was hooked up to a monitor for his oxygen levels, heart rate and respiratory rate, and they all improved when he was on my chest.

On our last night in SCBU, I was in a room with Edward and I’m quite sure that being really close to him made a difference to how quickly we went home. I’m quite sure of that. Actually being able to have him next to me overnight and establish breastfeeding made such a huge difference.

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