New technology is being harnessed at a Glasgow maternity hospital to help newborn babies who are fighting for life.
The Princess Royal Maternity is today officially unveiling its new Babycam - a hi-tech 2-way camera allowing mothers confined to bed to keep an eye on their babies in the hospital's Special Care Unit.
Babycam represents a new step forward for telemedicine, which NHS Greater Glasgow has already been using for some time. At Yorkhill Hospital, doctors regularly carry out "virtual examinations" of patients using video conferencing techniques.
But the Princess Royal's new venture is the first time the hardware's been used anywhere in Scotland to help re-unite sick mothers and babies.
Consultant Paediatrician Dr Chris Lilley said: "It's amazing to see how this technology is actually making a big difference to mums and babies. Sometimes a new mum is too ill to be moved from her own bed, and when her baby also needs Special Care, they're separated for the crucial first 24 or 48 hours of life. They're in the same hospital, but they can't be together. That's hard enough on a new mum, but it can also put the baby at a disadvantage, because the separation makes producing breast milk more difficult.
"We all know nowadays how important breast-feeding is, but with these babies it really can make ALL the difference. The emotional reassurance Babycam gives Mums is vital and can really help their recovery. But the great discovery we've made is that it can also be a huge medical help to vulnerable babies."
Rachel Tainsh's son Jake was born twenty-nine weeks into her pregnancy and was immediately moved to the Princess Royal's Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit. Mrs Tainsh was confined to bed two floors below Jake and says Babycam was a lifeline during their separation: "Babycam helped me to maintain a connection with Jake. Even though I couldn't hold or touch him, I could see what was happening to him, which helped to relieve the distress of being apart, especially in the first few days.
"Being able to see Jake helped me to express breast milk as well, which is one of the most important things mums can do.
"I think it's brilliant that other families in our position can use the Babycam now".
The Babycam being officially launched today is the first of its kind in Scotland. The telemedicine unit filming the baby - worth around £25,000 - is funded from the current project budget. The £2,500 screen for the mother's bedside is paid for by the Princess Royal Maternity Appeal, which is run by the Glasgow Royal Infirmary Appeals Trust.