Bereaved families gathered at our hospital to open a new, dedicated pregnancy and baby loss centre. 

Woodland House – the first of its kind in a UK hospital setting – is a safe haven for our families experiencing the heartbreak of loss, allowing them to grieve in private, away from the busy main hospital. It is somewhere where heartbreaking conversations can take place, in an appropriate setting that recognises and honours a family’s loss. 

Work on the centre – which is completely charitably funded – started 18 months ago after our hospital reached the £3m fundraising target in its Woodland House Appeal. 

Daljit Athwal, chief nursing and midwifery officer at Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This is a momentous day for our hospital and our families. We’re committed to do better for our patients and we listened to them when they told us their heartbreaking experience of loss at our hospital was compounded by the busy clinical environment, where it can be noisy and lack space for sensitive discussions. The opening of Woodland House will change this. It sets a new standard of bereavement aftercare for our families experiencing pregnancy and baby loss – one we hope will be replicated at hospitals up and down the country.”

Returning to see Woodland House open its doors was Leon James and Lynette Parkes, two parents who initially shared their heartbreaking experiences of baby loss at the hospital five years ago, when the Woodland House Appeal first launched. 

Leon’s son, Ezra, was born prematurely at 23 weeks, and died in his parents' arms at just three hours old. Leon reflects on Woodland House becoming a reality. He said: “Ezra was born, lived and died in the same room. I remember wanting to escape but having nowhere to go. I would have really benefitted from having somewhere like Woodland House – where we could just be together – not worry about running into happy families leaving hospital with their babies.

“To see Woodland House open is amazing. I think about the families it will help. It fills me with so much pride knowing that mine and other bereaved families played a part in making this change. I am thankful for all the parents involved in this project and this wonderful legacy made for our babies gone too soon.”

Approximately 2,000 women experience loss at our hospital every year. Woodland House was shaped by feedback from bereaved families. Located at the side of the hospital, the new centre has direct access from the hospital’s maternity ward and neonatal intensive care unit, as well as a separate entrance for when families return. It features counselling rooms, a private garden, a large communal lounge area for support groups and religious rituals as well as a family room with its own private access and garden, offering the opportunity for families to spend time with their loved ones in comfort and serenity. It also includes a private and sensitive nursing care room for staff looking after a baby.

Mark Brider, chief executive officer of our charity, said: “This is a proud day for our hospital and we are eternally grateful to everyone who has donated and allowed us to make our vision for Woodland House a reality. 

“One of the key pillars of our charity is to improve the experiences of all patients who walk through our doors, and Woodland House will do just that. We are the first hospital in the NHS recognising and honouring loss in this way and are helping to break the taboo that still surrounds talking about pregnancy and baby loss.” 

Watch our opening video below.