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Local couple work with hospital staff to introduce potentially life-saving wallets to expectant mums

Gareth, Sophia and Sue

Gareth, Sophia and Sue

In a few months' time, thanks to the hard work and dedication of a local couple, pregnant ladies in Plymouth and the surrounding areas will be given a potentially life-saving wallet at their booking in appointment. The wallets will not only protect their maternity notes wherever they go; they will also display important information and advice regarding mum’s health, and that of her baby’s.

Sophia and Gareth Williams, from Liskeard, have been working closely with our maternity staff to introduce the new wallets, which have been purchased through funds raised by the couple in memory of their daughter, Ava Hollie Williams, who was stillborn on the day before her due date on Thursday 21 July 2016.

In her memory, Ava’s family have been working extremely hard to raise as much money as possible through Ava’s Fund and have been working with a register charity, Towards Tomorrow Together (charity number 1151022), to raise awareness of and reduce stillbirth rates across South West England. The couple have used funds to provide specialist bereavement care and stillbirth prevention training to staff at Derriford Hospital. The fund has also enabled them to purchase 10,000 wallets which will cover a two-year period, at a cost of £7,800.

Produced by the Mama Academy, the MAMA Wellbeing Wallets display colourful, easy to understand key health information on both sides, to support women right through their pregnancy, which is why they will be given to them at their booking in appointment.

“It is estimated that 50% of stillbirths in the UK could be prevented through better care, education and awareness,” explains Sophia. “The introduction of the wallets – a big change for pregnant ladies – has proven to reduce stillbirth rates elsewhere in the country. It’s going to make a positive difference locally.

“What we do is because of the love we have for our daughter and the passion which drives us to try and prevent the preventable from happening. It wasn't until Ava was stillborn that we realised that this can happen to anybody. I'd had a perfect pregnancy up until those final few weeks when her movements changed and slowed down.

“In addition to raising awareness of and reducing stillbirth rates, we will also do all we can to support those who lose a baby at any gestation. We will be there to listen, care, comfort and point people in the direction of others who may be able to help.”

The wallets have been ordered and the couple will officially hand them over to Sue Wilkins, Director of Midwifery at Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust, in the near future.

“I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to Sophia and Gareth for their commitment to supporting the department in memory of their daughter, Ava,” Sue expressed. “We are hugely touched and privileged to work with local families; the contribution to our services when working in partnership in this way cannot be underestimated.

“This particular project is proven to support families in recognising signs that indicate contacting a Midwife or GP; we are delighted to be able to offer the Mama Wellbeing Wallets to all women who book for their care at Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust.”

One of the important messages displayed on the wallets, and which the couple are particularly keen to highlight, is the importance of monitoring baby’s movements but also recognising and acting upon a change in baby’s movement or usual pattern.

“Ava had two sets of reduced movement at full term and these were at times when she’d normally move,” Sophia highlighted. “Her routine was to not move in the morning and then continue to move throughout the afternoon and evening – when I went in to be checked, she hadn’t. So it was both a reduction and a change. It is important to know what is normal for your baby.

“After Ava's second set of reduced movement, she had very big movements – unusual for her and we have since learned that this is probably when she was in distress. We’d had no idea and just felt reassured she was moving again. The things we wish we’d known then; so we are sharing to help raise awareness.”

Tracey Sargent, Clinical Risk Midwife for Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust, added: “We have also introduced additional patient information leaflets and signposting to national organisations and charities that are raising awareness of fetal movements. We want our expectant mums and dads to be aware of:

  • When movement should start to be felt
  • How often the baby should move
  • What to do if the pattern of movement changes or is reduced
  • The importance of monitoring baby’s movement

“It is so important for expectant mums to know what a normal pattern of movement is and for them to not delay contacting maternity triage if they notice a change,” Tracey continued. “We also stress the importance of not using a home Doppler for reassurance. Midwives and obstetricians are trained to interpret the difference between a baby’s heartbeat and mum’s heartbeat and to listen for any abnormalities.”

Sophia fully supports the message from our midwives and has stressed: “Please remember to trust your instinct ladies, it’s so important! Ava has and will continue to make a positive difference in this world.

“We are planning several fundraisers this year including, a family fun day at Benodet Park in Torpoint on Saturday 28 July and we are putting a team together to run the Plymouth Half Marathon in May. If anyone is interested and would like to join us, please get in touch via email (avasfund@outlook.com).

“We have many plans and ideas about procedures we'd like to fund locally, including further training days and an increased supply of Mama Academy wallets.”

Over £11,000 has been raised for Ava's fund; £7,800 has been spent on the wallets and £2,500 on specialist bereavement care and stillbirth prevention training days.

To find out more about Ava’s Fund and to support the work they are doing, please visit their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/AvaHWilliams2016/ or follow them on Twitter @Avas_Fund.

Links to useful leaflets and websites can be found on our website, please visit: https://www.plymouthhospitals.nhs.uk/maternity-information-leaflets

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