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Triple the love in maternity ward

Northeast Health Wangaratta has cared for its first bundle of triplets this week after a Bundalong family’s newest editions were transferred from the Mercy Hospital.

Layla, Meredith and Audrey were born at 33 weeks and one day to parents Sophie and Ben Pickering after Sophie required an emergency cesarean on 6 April.  The triplets spent a week in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit before being moved to the special care nursery and were transferred to Northeast Health on 24 April by the Paediatric Infant Perinatal Emergency Retrieval (PIPER) service.

Three midwives holding triplets in NHW nursery unit.
NHW midwives with triplets Layla, Meredith and Audrey.

Mother Sophie Pickering said she was grateful to have her girls home after they were discharged on 3 May 2023.

“The girls are all going well and we’ve been very lucky that they have exceeded expectations in their first three and a half weeks,” Mrs Pickering said.

“They were on CPAP machines to assist their breathing at the start, but were able to get off those quite quickly and took to the bottles really well.

“I’ve started to combine feeding so we will see how we go.”

Mr and Mrs Pickering have two sons, aged eleven and nine and said they were thrilled to have three sisters join their family.

“The boys are really happy that they now have three little sisters,” Mrs Pickering said.

“It’s going to be a full house but I’m excited about all that lies ahead, even if it’s a little daunting.”

Mrs Pickering was referred to Melbourne for special care throughout her pregnancy given the risk level associated with multiple births, with her care managed between Yarrawonga, the Mercy and Wangaratta.

“I was referred very early in the pregnancy to Melbourne and travelled every two to three weeks to the Mercy, while seeing an obstetrician in Yarrawonga in-between.”

Maternity ward Nurse Unit Manager, Emma said that while the work to prepare for the transfer of the triplets was significant, the opportunity to care for the newborns and Sophie had been a lovely and unique experience for the team of midwives and SCN nurses.

“We have capacity for six in the special care nursery, so we did a lot of logistical planning to ensure we could safely care for the triplets and other women in labour over the same period,” Emma said.

“Sophie has been fantastic, she is managing really well and taking on a lot of the day duties herself.”

“Given our bed numbers and demand, Sophie wasn’t been able to stay with her babies, so we juggled the night feeds when mum was at home and it has been so lovely having them here – you can see how cute they are.”

“We know Sophie was really looking forward to having her family back together and we supported their transition home as soon as the bubs were ready.”

Mrs Pickering said though she was feeling tired she was glad to be back in their own surroundings and was grateful to the NHW midwives and nurses for their round-the-clock care.

“The midwives and nurses here have all been fantastic, so incredibly helpful and wonderful with the girls.

“It’s made the transition really enjoyable, and meeting with the lactation consultant and receiving tips from the midwives has helped me get a plan together for how to manage feeding and the juggle at home.”

“We’ll draw on our past experience and the advice provided by others to find what works for us.”

“We’ve had a team of family and friends on standby for when the girls were discharged, so we’re really looking forward to starting our lives as a family of seven.”