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Hats off to our knitters

Staff at Poole Hospital’s maternity unit have been inundated with red hats following an appeal for knitters to make them for new born babies.

More than 2,000 have been sent in since the appeal began six weeks ago, with up to 50 arriving each day from as far afield as Suffolk, Cardiff and Dundee.

The red hats are an effective way of keeping babies warm in the first few hours after birth when babies come from a warm womb into the world. New born babies are at an increased risk of hypothermia in the first 12 hours.

But some babies need a little extra attention, perhaps because they have a complication like a respiratory condition, jaundice or an abnormal blood glucose levels, and the red hats provide a visual prompt to all staff that the baby needs closer observation than is usually required.

It is hoped the hats will reduce the number of babies who are admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit because they develop complications. Each year, around four per cent of babies born full term (after 37 weeks) are admitted to the unit, and around a quarter of these because the baby was cold or not maintaining blood sugar levels.

Christine Pearse, lead midwife for the hospital’s labour ward and who introduced the idea, said she was staggered by the response from the public.

“It has been incredible,” she said. “We know when Poole Hospital appeals for knitters to show their support they rise to the challenge, as they have done with octopi and memory mitts in the past, but this has exceeded all expectations.

“We’re extremely grateful to everyone who has made one – every single hat makes a difference.”

Christine estimates the unit needs around 2,000 hats, which parents are given as a keepsake of the first item of clothing their baby wore, each year. 


Knitting pattern

Use double knitting wool.

Using 3.1/4 m.m. (10) needles.

Cast on 71 sts and work 8cm (3ins) in rib finishing on 2nd row.

Change to 4m.m. (8) needles and work 12 rows in stocking stitch.

Shape crown.

1st row K1*sl.1, K1, p.s.s.o. knit 5 repeat from * to end.

2nd row and every alternate row, purl.

3rd row K1*sl.1, K1, p.s.s.o. knit 4 repeat from * to end.

5th row K1*sl.1, K1, p.s.s.o. knit 3 repeat from * to end.

7th row K1*sl.1, K1, p.s.s.o. knit 2 repeat from * to end.

9th row K1*sl.1, K1, p.s.s.o. knit 1 repeat from * to end.

11th row K1*sl.1, K1, p.s.s.o. repeat to the end.

Break off wool and thread wool through stitches, draw up tight and fasten off.

Sew hat up, folding rib in half.

Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Longfleet Road, Poole, Dorset BH15 2JB. Tel: 01202 665511

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