A SPECIAL room which offers sanctuary for parents of babies with life-limiting illnesses has opened at the Bradford Royal Infirmary (BRI).

The Butterfly Pathway family room is a new addition to the Women’s and Newborn Unit at the hospital.

Former office space has been transformed by being painted in soothing colours and decorated with soft furnishings, pictures and furniture as part of the new Trust pathway, which supports new mums and their families following diagnosis of a life-limiting condition in their baby.

The Butterfly Pathway has been created by Trust Consultant Neonatologist, Dr Chakra Vasudevan, and Specialist Midwife, Vicky Jones, with support from members of the Trust’s perinatal teams and staff from the Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice.

The Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said it has been "hugely supportive" since it came into operation around two years ago, playing an important role in helping families prepare for the arrival of their baby and spend as much quality time as possible with them.

Dr Vasudevan said: “The Butterfly Pathway is a unique service and we want our families and other professionals to see that this can be done with limited resources and have great impact on the lives of children and their families.The pathway helps families avoid painful and intrusive intensive care and spend time with their babies and siblings, making memories and caring for their child at home.

"It also helps them understand the implications of diagnosis and deal with bereavement.

“It’s vital that we value every life equally and the pathway plays a vital role in allowing families to treasure their children.”

Families on the pathway are offered support, choices and a care plan from a team comprising of a neonatologist, midwife, geneticists, obstetricians and the perinatal palliative care team based at the Forget Me Not Hospice.

This allows them to make informed choices about their labour, and provide the right care for their baby immediately after birth.

Vicky said: “The main reason the pathway works is because it involves a multi-disciplinary team. That’s what makes it special. We all work hard to make sure we get the environment right – both for our babies and their families."

Feedback from one mums read: “I dread to think of the emotions I would have had to go through on my own. The Bradford Butterfly Pathway means I have people I can turn to, experts who have experienced my case many times over. I know I can get through my journey with them by my side.”

Staff from the Women’s and Newborn Unit donated funds raised by the Breaking Waters Dragonboat team, representing the Trust’s own Bradford Hospitals' Charity to transform the room. Funds have also been donated by the 4Louis charity, a UK charity that works across the country to support anyone affected by miscarriage, stillbirth and the death of a baby or child.