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HB Bears Leo

A bear hug is all parents now need to hear their baby's heartbeat when they have to leave them on the neonatal unit.

HB Bears Leo

Heartbeat bears are the latest initiative from Leo's, a charity which supports families of sick and premature babies across the region.

In a bid to help reduce the separation anxiety faced by parents having to leave their baby on a neonatal ward, Leo's, with the help of Kalma Baby and Window To The Womb, are now able to provide bears for every family on the neonatal units at The University Hospital of North Durham Hospital, Darlington Memorial Hospital and Sunderland Royal Hospital.

These special bears contain an internal device which allows neonatal professionals to record baby's heartbeat, so parents can then take these bears home to cuddle when they can't be with their baby on the ward.

Not only will these bears be used to reduce separation anxiety, they will also be used to comfort parents whose baby requires end of life care on the neonatal unit at the James Cook University Hospital as part of the charity's bereavement support.

The project, which has been funded through fundraising events by one of the charity's corporate partners, Kalma Baby, is the first of its kind for the region.

Rebecca Riley, Owner of Kalma Baby, said: "Having had two premature babies myself, I know first-hand how scary it can be to leave your baby every day to go home, especially when they're needing life-saving treatment.

"We had to be involved in fundraising for this project, we fell in love with this idea and the work Leo's does. Knowing we can help families even more with these bears is incredibly special."

Kalma Baby is an award-winning provider of antenatal, baby and children's yoga across the North East, and has also launched dedicated neonatal yoga classes, in conjunction with Leo's, for families when they come home from the neonatal unit.

Leo's founder, Lottie King, said: "We feel very privileged to be able to offer this service to our families across the region. Being able to also support families through the heartbreak of baby loss with this project is something very close to all of us at Leo's."

Julie Sanderson, neonatal senior nurse, said: "Parents are welcome to stay with their babies and we have facilities for them to do so, but when they do need to leave them, perhaps to care for other children at home, it can be distressing.  Heartbeat bears offer comfort to parents and are an excellent, original way for them to feel close to their baby.  It's important we do all we can to support the whole family at what can be an anxious time."

Iona Harries, registered midwife, and owner of the Window To The Womb, which has three clinics based in Middlesbrough, Darlington and Durham, said: "In our diagnostic scan clinics, the well-being of mum and baby is paramount. When the team at Leo's contacted us to work with them on this project it was the perfect partnership. It's a privilege to be working with Leo's, and it's great to see the difference our bears will make to so many families."

Leo's supports families on the neonatal units at the James Cook University Hospital, the University Hospital of North Durham, Darlington Memorial Hospital and Sunderland Royal Hospital. It's the UK's largest provider of vCreate, a secure video and picture messaging service, the team also provides, peer support volunteers, welcome boxes, bereavement support, playgroups and is partnered with Zoe's Place Baby Hospice.

The charity also founded Neonatal Mental Health Awareness Week.


Published 11th November 2019

'The treatment I have received from all the staff has been excellent and could you extend my thanks to them all. A very thankful and relieved patient'.

Patient, Dermatology Outpatients Department, University Hospital of North Durham