New device brings breathing support to maternity patients

Maternity ward patients at Queen Charlotte’s & Chelsea Hospital can breathe easy thanks to a brand-new device providing non-invasive respiratory support to patients in the High Dependency Unit (HDU). 

The equipment, known as Optiflow, delivers oxygen through the nose instead of an obstructive face mask, meaning patients can continue to eat, drink and interact with family.

The brand new device was paid for by Imperial Health Charity’s Poppy’s Fund. One patient who was treated for pneumonia six days after giving birth said: “When I was admitted, I was given oxygen which helped my breathing, but it was uncomfortable and made my nose and throat dry. That in turn induced coughing which made my chest pain worse.

“I was transferred to HDU a few hours after admission and was put on the Optiflow. This machine delivered warm moist oxygen which was a lot more comfortable. I was able to breath deeper and was not coughing as much. I certainly felt quite a significant difference from the morning.

“By the next day I was pretty much off oxygen which was remarkable considering how ill I was the day before.”

Marie Hall, Team Leader for the obstetric HDU, said: “Being acutely unwell during pregnancy or right after giving birth can be extremely stressful for mothers and their partners.

“Having this equipment allows us to implement early intervention to avoid transfer to intensive care, keeping the mother and baby together.”

The charity launched Poppy’s Fund last year to raise funds for the maternity team at Queen Charlotte’s & Chelsea Hospital.