Wales

Coronavirus: Gwynedd parents use app to see premature babies

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Media captionBaby Kai was born prematurely and is being treated in the neonatal unit at the Bangor hospital.

Every morning Lora Jones wakes up to a photo of her newborn baby and hears how he has been a good boy during the night.

Kai was delivered prematurely at Ysbyty Gwynedd in Bangor and is having to remain in the neonatal unit.

Due to the coronavirus restrictions parents cannot be with their premature or ill babies at all times.

But nurses are helping them keep in touch by sending photos and updates using an app.

Staff are using an app called Baby Diary to help parents feel part of their baby's first few weeks while they are treated at Ysbyty Gwynedd and Glan Clwyd Hospital's special care baby units.

Neonatal unit manager Caren Radcliffe said it could ease parents' stress and help parents understand their baby's condition and progress.

Image copyright BCUHB/Lora Jones
Image caption Kai is having to spend time in the special baby unit in Bangor

"Due to the challenges around visiting during Covid-19 this app allows us to communicate with parents in a different way on a regular basis," she said.

"It's also vitally important that they receive visual updates on how they are progressing which is what the Baby Diary allows us to do in a secure way."

Image copyright BCUHB
Image caption Lora Jones gets sent images to show her how Kai is doing during his time in the neonatal unit

Lora, 31, lives in Llanfaethlu on Anglesey with her husband Kris and said they were trying to divide their time between the children at home and seeing Kai.

She said she often felt guilty when she left after visiting him and found the updates reassuring.

"If you wake up in the middle of the night, you can see what he's been up to. It's special," she said.

"We wake up in the morning and see Kai, hear how he's been feeding during the night.

"It's just lovely and it makes you feel close to him - closer than if you just rang the unit because you're seeing him, it's so much better with a photo."

Image caption Lora and Kris said the app helped them feel close to Kai even when they could not visit in person

Lora, who has had postnatal depression after previous births, said the app was helping her keep the "bond" with Kai.

"They write a little diary as if he's talking to you, saying 'Hi mum and dad, I've been a good boy overnight'. It's really cute!"

Image copyright BCUHB/Bethan Roberts
Image caption Beca was the first baby to be kept in touch with her father virtually via the app

Bethan Roberts, from Llangefni on Anglesey, gave birth to Beca in April but her partner Ian had to leave half an hour later due to the restrictions.

"He hadn't had the chance to hold our new baby or even spend much time with her," she said.

"I was lucky as I remained in hospital with her until I was discharged but I can't imagine how difficult it must be for new parents to leave their child at hospital and not be with them."

Image copyright BCUHB
Image caption Bethan said the staff at the neonatal unit had been amazing

Bethan was the first person to trial the new app at Ysbyty Gwynedd, and said it was "vital" during such a difficult time.

Betsi Cadwaladr health board said the app was now being introduced at Wrexham Maelor Hospital, and it would continue to use it after the pandemic to keep parents in touch and informed when they were away from the units.

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