By Liz Crudgington
Dozens of babies have been brought safely into the world thanks to the efforts of a small but dedicated team at the pre-term birth clinic at the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital in Margate and the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford.
The clinic celebrates its first anniversary this week and in that time the specialist clinicians have monitored around 200 people who were at risk of having a premature birth – and helped their babies arrive safely.
One of the mums who was cared for by the team said she will forever be in their debt.
Kimberly Cousins, from Ramsgate, lost her first baby at 20 weeks due to a condition termed incompetent cervix, where the cervix shortens and opens in the second or third trimester.
She is now mum to 11-week-old Teddy and said: “The clinic meant everything to me and my husband. If it wasn’t for them, Teddy wouldn’t be here.
“They are fantastic. They made me feel very calm at a very anxious time.”
People who have had previous premature births, or who have other risk factors including surgery to their cervix, or previous miscarriages, can be referred to the clinic by their midwife and will be seen until they reach their third trimester.
Babies born before 28 weeks of pregnancy have a much higher risk of ongoing health issues, and the chances of survival increase the later a baby is delivered.
Kimberly said: “I was terrified. When I had the first scan at the clinic, my cervix had already started to shorten and open, but they acted really quickly. The team then monitored me every two weeks to make sure the stitch was still in place and nothing had changed.
“I can’t thank them enough for everything they did.”
Fetal wellbeing midwife Jaynie Hollister said it was rewarding to see the impact the clinics have on people’s lives.
She said: “We provide extra care and reassurance to people at one of the most worrying times of their lives.
“We are able to review them regularly to check for changes and we can offer a range of treatments that can help prevent premature labour.
“It is so rewarding to be able to give them that extra peace of mind, and to know we can pick up any issues early and offer appropriate treatment to give the best chance of a good outcome.
“It’s wonderful to be able to celebrate a year of helping people to have their babies and we are looking forward to helping many more.”
Consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Aylur Rajasri established the service and said it was her passion.
She added: “I am very grateful to my team of midwives, health care assistants, admin and reception staff for helping me deliver this service so effectively.
“I am delighted to see it making a difference and saving so many babies’ lives.
“We closely work with our colleagues at St Thomas for advice and their support has been a huge motivation to develop further.”