The Medway Hospital Charity was delighted to help fund a piece of equipment to support preterm babies and their parents.

The Lifestart machine supports optimal umbilical cord management by the bedside, meaning midwives no longer need to take a baby to a separate area of the delivery room when they are born weeks early.

By using this equipment, staff can delay clamping by up to five minutes, and carry out the baby’s necessary health checks next to their parents. As a result, our preterm babies often need less blood pressure support and many have better health outcomes and a shorter stay on the neonatal unit.

The benefits of delaying the clamping of the umbilical cord include a reduction in mortality rates, incidence of necrotizing enterocolitis (inflammation of the intestines), intraventricular haemorrhages (bleeds on the brain), and the need for blood transfusions post-delivery. Babies also have better iron stores for up to six months afterwards.

Suzanne Thake, Senior Practice Development Nurse on the Oliver Fisher Neonatal Unit, said: “The Lifestart machine has enabled us to give these important benefits to our preterm babies by providing a platform and equipment to stabilise them in close proximity to allow optimal cord management.

“In addition to these important physical benefits, it also allows parents the opportunity to remain as close as possible to their baby during this stabilisation period, which has been shown to reduce their anxieties and increase their understanding of what is happening to their baby.

With the use of Lifestart, we are now able to safely offer optimal cord management to all of our preterm babies and it is becoming embedded into our routine practice.”

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