The charity is raising funds for bilirubin monitors to help midwives detect jaundice in newborn babies during home visits. These monitors will be used by a team of 75 community midwives based at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton and the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath.
Between them they cover 500 square miles throughout Sussex, visiting GP surgeries and children’s centres as well as looking after 6,000 mums and babies every year throughout their pregnancies and births.
One of the most serious conditions that the community midwives look out for in newborns is jaundice. This is a build up of bilirubin (a waste product created by excess red blood cells breaking down in the body) and if left untreated, can cause organ failure and brain damage.
Jaundice can be very common in the first few days of life as a baby’s system adapts to life outside of the womb. Early treatment can make all the difference, so Rockinghorse is aiming to provide bilirubin monitors to detect jaundice during home visits.
Kelly Parker, Community Midwifery Manager at the Brighton & Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust, says: “If a community midwife or support worker suspects jaundice, our current course of action is to refer the baby immediately to A&E for assessment. This is often a day or two after the family have been discharged from hospital.
“The baby will have a simple meter reading test to measure bilirubin levels in the blood. While some babies are admitted for further treatment, the vast majority of newborns will have a normal reading and be sent home. However, the whole experience may have exposed mum and baby to a risk of infections and possibly a long wait for a simple procedure.
“My team carry out 40-60 home visits every day across the county, and due to how common mild jaundice is, a lot of babies are being referred to hospital for a bilirubin test. Any suspected case must be checked in the hospital and this has led to a growing frustration from community midwives who cannot carry out the jaundice check themselves.
“As a medical professional, I constantly strive for excellence and I would love for my team to have the opportunity to improve the post-natal care we offer to new mums and babies.”
Rockinghorse have pledged to purchase the same monitoring equipment used by the A&E department so that the community midwife team can carry out post-natal check-ups on new babies at home and in clinics.
The transcutaneous bilirubin meters are non-invasive, simple to use and the vital test takes less than a minute. By equipping community midwives in Sussex to carry out monitoring as part of their post-natal care, only babies tested positive for jaundice would be sent to hospital for further tests and treatments.
Louise Bartha, Appeals & Trusts Fundraising Manager at Rockinghorse, says: “Providing bilirubin monitors for home visits will bring huge benefits to the care already provided by the Community Midwife Team in Sussex. At home monitoring would ease the worry for new parents who wouldn’t need to make trips to hospital during what is already a stressful time for them.
We would be so grateful for your support this Christmas. Please donate to our appeal and help us to provide a better service for all the new families cared for by the Community Midwife Team.”
To find out more or to make a donation, visit www.rockinghorse.org.uk or call 01273 330044.