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Letter to the editor: exhibition commemorates vital work of Stroud Maternity Unit

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Dear Editor,

Stroud residents may already be aware that The Museum in the Park has a lovely collectors room where temporary exhibits are housed. We very much hope that your readers will enjoy seeing a newly curated case that commemorates the vital work of Stroud Maternity Unit. On display for the next three to four months, we have gathered objects from midwives and local families that reveal the distinctive qualities of birthing in Stroud.

There are a number of curiosities on display: from knitted breasts designed to help new mothers grasp the best positions for feeling their newborns, through to a wooden pinard that shows how heartbeats were monitored before new doppler technology took over.

Some great local stories are captured too: Kirsty Mason shares her daughter’s SMU birth card and photographs of her daughter protesting in 1996 to keep the unit open. Pleasingly, SMU baby Erin went on to become a midwife and actually attended her elective placement in the very wards where she was born!

These evocative objects show the very special place the midwifery led birth unit has in Stroud’s heart. Back in October, Stroud Times covered the 1,000 person strong 2022 March for Midwives event and banners from that time are in the display case too.

The Stroud Maternity Matters advocacy group continues to call for the still empty post-natal ward at SMU to be reinstated as soon as possible. The hope is that this exhibit will bring attention to the ongoing and heavily prized work of that the midwives continue to undertake each day in Stroud, despite the challenges. Whilst the range of what the unit can currently offer has changed, it remains a very special place to birth and families who have children who were born in Stroud will be especially pleased to reminisce.

Looking forward to the many conversations sparked by the collection!

With thanks,

Kate Buckingham

Chair of Stroud Maternity Matters

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