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Take a seat and stay the night

June 6, 2018

New mom Kathryn Farrell watches on as proud grandma Mary Jane Farrell enjoys cuddle time with newly arrived grandson Jack Morrison in the comfort of a new reclining chair in the postpartum unit of Rockyview General Hospital.

Recliners let family and friends give more support to new moms

Story by Blain Fairbairn | Photo courtesy Janet Mezzarobba

CALGARY — Family and friends who help moms through labour and delivery at Rockyview General Hospital (RGH) can rest a little easier thanks to 35 new reclining chairs in the postpartum unit.

Support people are welcome to stay with new moms overnight to help lighten their load, which also allows them to build a strong bond with the baby, as they play an important caregiver role right from the start.

But up until recently, the support person only had a stiff, high-backed chair to use. Many supporters, husbands especially, often felt forced to leave the hospital to get some rest after many long hours awake with their partner.

With the arrival of the new recliners, supporters now have a comfy place to nap or sleep — which can reassure and make a world of difference to an exhausted mom.

“Having these chairs definitely helps a lot,” says Kathryn Farrell, who gave birth to son Jack on March 21 at the RGH.

“Motherhood is new to me, and to have the people who can provide support in the room when I need it most is comforting. My whole world has changed, and having this support in place is amazing,” she says.
Grandma agrees.

“It’s wonderful. I get to stay here with my daughter and grandson, helping provide support for her and snuggles for him,” says Kathryn’s mother, Mary Jane Farrell.

Gillian McCann, RGH’s postpartum unit manager, says the gift isn’t just about a comfortable place for a support person to relax. The chairs are also an important part of ensuring the whole family gets off to a good start.

“These new chairs help foster a sense of togetherness for the entire family unit,” she says. “Having a family member in the room enhances patient and family-centred care because we can provide greater support to a new mom during her transition, which in turn supports baby.”

McCann says a lack of safe, comfortable places for new dads or other support people to rest has been a big patient concern on the unit. Once her team identified the need for a comfortable place to rest in postpartum rooms, they looked for a suitable reclining chair that would fit the room’s modest space.

In 2017, the unit reached out to Calgary Health Trust (CHT) to fund 35 chairs. Six chairs were bought with funds previously raised. Just after Christmas, CHT shared the good news it had secured funds for the remaining 29 chairs.

The recliners were furnished through the Calgary Health Trust’s Grateful Patients and Families program, a way for individuals to say thank-you to the caregivers and facilities that delivered exceptional care to themselves or a loved one.

The program is designed to allow donors to direct their gifts to the greatest need of a unit, facility or area. It can be directed to the latest technology, building enhancements, patient care or staff education.
While the recliners could be seen as a small measure, but it’s one that’s having a huge impact on patients and families.

“The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive,” says McCann. “Partners and support people have been able to comfortably sleep in the chair. And new moms have stated they’re easy to get in and out of, are very comfortable and are great for breastfeeding.”