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The neonatal butterfly symbol

Sadly, parents expecting twins are more likely than those expecting a single baby to experience complications and tragically this can sometimes lead to the loss of one of the babies.

When one twin survives the parents face a complex situation: mixed emotions or enormous grief for the baby they lost and joy at the birth of their surviving twin.

Sometimes staff worry about saying the wrong thing at this time. ASPH has joined up with the ‘Butterfly project’, set up by Newcastle University in January 2018, which makes it easier for staff to recognise that a twin has been lost – if you see a butterfly on a baby’s cot it has a very important and special meaning. Most parent’s value continued acknowledgement that a surviving baby is a twin and here in NICU we have decided to use butterfly stickers with the name of the baby who died and place it above the cot of the surviving baby so that staff can easily recognise the baby was a twin.

Jo Williard, Family Support Coordinator at St Peter’s said: “Parents value the empathy and support they receive from staff during a time when they are very vulnerable. Often staff are the only people, other than the parents themselves, to have “known” the twin who died. This can make the bond between parents and staff very special. “