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New maternity initiative offers more personalised care at West Suffolk Hospital, in Bury St Edmunds

A new way of working for maternity services across Suffolk and north east Essex was officially launched on Tuesday.

The Better Births programme aims to deliver a more personalised service to new mothers and families, with each pregnant woman getting her own dedicated midwifery team and the reassurance of a midwife she knows present at the birth.

Initially, six new ‘continuity of care’ teams have been created across West Suffolk, Ipswich and Colchester hospitals.

Young, pregnant woman. (Posed by model).
Picture: Andy Payton(11667382)
Young, pregnant woman. (Posed by model). Picture: Andy Payton(11667382)

Lynne Saunders, head of midwifery at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We want every family to have a positive maternity experience.

"Ensuring a consistent community and acute midwifery team are available who can get to know parents personally, answer their questions, and offer them useful information will help to support a healthy pregnancy, birth, and enhanced postnatal care.”

Regular contact will help midwives to better ensure the good physical and mental wellbeing of mothers and babies, including encouraging greater levels of breastfeeding, reducing the prevalence of smoking, helping to prevent diabetes and supporting good mental health.

The ambition of introducing the new way of caring is to see a 20 per cent reduction in stillbirths, neonatal and maternal deaths and brain injuries by 2020 and a 50 per cent reduction by 2050.

Figures from March 2019 show around 400 women have already benefited from the new initiative.

National evidence shows that women who receive continuity of care through their pregnancy are:

  • 16 per cent less likely to suffer pregnancy loss and 19 per cent less likely to lose their baby before 24 weeks
  • 24 per cent less likely to experience pre-term birth
  • 15 per cent less likely to require regional analgesia
  • 16 per cent less likely to have an episiotomy

Lisa Nobes, chief nurse, NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk and NHS West Suffolk clinical commissioning groups, said: "I very much welcome the launch of Better Births as it represents a significant step forward in how we deliver maternity services.

"By instigating a more personal approach to maternity services we can offer better support to new mothers so they can best enjoy this very special time of life as well as giving their baby the best start and opportunity to live a long and healthy life."

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