Five Chinese Senior Health delegates visited Tunbridge Wells Hospital on Wednesday (16 October) to give a presentation on how introducing Kangaroo Care (placing a baby skin-to-skin against the mother or father’s chest) has helped transform China’s maternity services.

Kangaroo Care was introduced to mothers in China in November 2015 after the Chinese Prematurity Intervention Programme and Save the Children invited three Senior Midwives from Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust (Sarah Gregson, Jean Meadows and Marion Adams) to visit the country and teach paediatric teams from 10 different hospitals how to implement Kangaroo Care within their hospitals.

The 10-day trip was organised nine months after Save the Children invited a delegation of senior policy makers from China to Tunbridge Wells Hospital to find out more about the Trust’s own experience and research into Kangaroo Care which it has been leading the way in in a Transitional Care environment since 2009*.

Whilst the visit on Wednesday (16 October) was a chance for Chinese Senior Health delegates to share their own research findings, it was also a chance for them to find out about some of the other initiatives MTW NHS Trust offers mothers and babies.

Senior Midwife Sarah Gregson said: “Following our research project investigating Kangaroo Care for babies born by an elective caesarean section, we are now able to offer most women the opportunity to have immediate skin-to-skin contact with their baby in the operating theatre.

“For babies that are in Transitional Care, so those who are born prematurely or are small for their gestational age but don’t need specialist care, we offer KangaWraps so mums, and dads, can provide Kangaroo Care to their little one for longer whilst allowing them to move around with their arms and hands free. They can also be used by mums who are confined to their bed for example after having a caesarean section or epidural.”

Neonatal Specialist Matron Julia Moat, along with members of her team, spoke about how the Neonatal Unit provides family-centred care.

Julia said: “When your baby is on the Neonatal Unit it can be overwhelming to see your child surrounded by modern technology. To help ease parents’ concerns and worries we take a family-centred approach to the care we provide. This involves considering how it feels for parents to have a premature or sick baby and making sure they are included in the care process for their baby or babies.

“We also offer facilities and support to help families along their care pathway. These include a parent support group, a designated room for mums to express milk, a kitchen for the preparation and storage of milk, plus three parent rooms, each with en-suite facilities which can be used by families ahead of their baby being discharged.”

Infant Feeding Specialists Sally Sidhu and Cat Leigh also spoke about the antenatal colostrum collection service which is offered to women with certain pregnancy and baby related conditions, such as Gestational Diabetes, raised BMI, premature babies and babies at risk of hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) after birth.

Sally and Cat train expectant mothers to express their colostrum by hand and collect it in a sterile syringe. This can be done at around 36 weeks. Once the colostrum has been collected they then freeze it at home and defrost it when they go into labour so they can give it to their baby as their first feed.

Following the presentation, the delegates visited the postnatal ward where they spoke with new mothers and staff and visited the Neonatal Unit to see where premature babies are cared for.