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South Lakes Birth Centre welcomes its first baby

Dad Nathan Strefford, mum Gemma Miles and baby Pippa Rae Strefford – the last baby born on the the old Maternity Unit at FGH

[A]rriving a week early, little McKenzie Kirkland became the first baby to be born at the brand new £12m South Lakes Birth Centre at Furness General Hospital, when he arrived at 8.10am on Wednesday 7 February 2018, weighing 7lbs 8oz.

Born to parents Keith and Ann-Marie Kirkland from Barrow, McKenzie is a little brother for five year old Malachy and three year old Leo. Originally due on Valentine’s Day, McKenzie decided he couldn’t wait to meet his new family and made an appearance seven days early.

Ann-Marie, said: “The whole experience has been brilliant. The new unit is beautiful – much better than the old unit. It is so much more open and the beds are really comfy. The staff have been great and looked after us really well.”

Staff and women officially moved over to the new unit on Tuesday 6 February, following an intense four week induction and orientation programme.

South Lakes Birth Centre, named by the public and staff, is made up of 14 en-suite birthing rooms with facilities for partners to stay over, two dedicated operating theatres, a Special Care Baby Unit, a Maternity Assessment area, a Transitional Care facility, a skills lab for staff training, and a Bereavement Suite.

Midwife Cathy Rawlings with baby McKenzie Kirkland – the first baby born at South Lakes Birth Centre

Sascha Wells, Director of Midwifery, Gynaecology and Obstetrics, University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT), said: “We are so excited to finally be in our brand new unit, and to welcome our first baby less than 24 hours after we moved in has made it even more special!

“Our staff have worked tirelessly to make the move as seamless as possible, and I’d like to thank each one of them for the professionalism and care they continued to show to colleagues and women throughout. I’d also like to thank our estates team and everyone else who was on hand to help us move over to the new unit, and of course, the women and families who made the move with us.

“This really is the start of a new beginning for our maternity services. We are so excited to build on the foundations we have put in place and will continue to work with our local communities to make sure our services are the best they can be.”

The teams have also been celebrating the last baby born in the old Maternity Unit that opened back in 1984. Little Pippa Rae Strefford was born at 10.31am on Tuesday 6 February 2018, weighing 8lbs 14oz. Born to mum Gemma Miles and dad Nathan Strefford from Walney, Pippa is a little sister for two year old Isobel.

Both baby McKenzie and baby Pippa were presented with a special baby hamper full of goodies to help them as they start life with their new families and mark their place in FGH’s history. Little McKenzie was also presented with the first commemorative ‘I was born in South Lakes Birth Centre’ baby vest. These will be given to the first 50 babies born in the new unit.

The first baby to be welcomed into the brand new Special Care Baby Unit was little Louis Elias Pearson. Born on 26 January 2018 at 35 weeks, Louis is a baby brother for 22 month old Daniel Vincent Pearson and a new bundle of joy for mum Gemma Spurr and dad Darren Pearson from Dalton.

Gemma, said: “I think the new unit is lovely. It’s bigger than I expected and the facilities are great for local people. It’s amazing to be in here and experience it all. I work at FGH and in my opinion; our hospital doesn’t get enough praise. From mine and my partner’s personal experience with both our children, the staff are fantastic – they’re absolute angels.”

Sue Smith, Executive Chief Nurse, UHMBT, said: “It only seems like a few months ago, we announced that we were investing in the new Maternity Unit at FGH and now, we’ve moved in and welcomed our first baby! It is such an exciting time for everyone and I am so pleased that we are finally in the new unit.

“We have always said that this unit belongs to the community; we just run it. From the very start, women, families, staff and members of the public have told us what they wanted the unit to be made up of, how they wanted it to look, and what they wanted it to stand for, and that is exactly what we have now. On behalf of the Trust, I’d like to thank everyone who helped us design the new unit and get us to where we are today.”

Local people can still get involved in the new unit as part of the Bayb’s Maternity Appeal. The appeal continues to go from strength to strength, and thanks to the generosity and kindness of local people, more than £200,000 has been raised so far! The appeal was launched in March 2017 to raise £250,000 to fund additional equipment, services and furnishings that will make all the difference to mums-to-be and their partners. With just under £50,000 to go to meet the appeal’s target, there are still lots of opportunities for the public to get involved.

For more information on the appeal and how you can get involved, visit: or contact Heidi Bowron in the Bay Hospital Charity office on 01229 404473 or [email protected].

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