Hat's the way to yuletide cheer at maternity ward
A mother is bringing festive cheer to Altnagelvin Hospital's maternity wards by knitting tiny woollen Santa hats to keep every baby born between now and Christmas warm.
Keen knitter Lizann Rainey was spurred into action by her daughter Rebecca, who is training to be a midwife at the Londonderry hospital.
Over the course of the next few weeks Lizann (52), from Limavady - who has been living with ME for 13 years - will knit 60 tiny Santa hats for babies to wear directly after birth to help them adjust to life outside the womb.
"My daughter is a trainee midwife on the labour ward and I wanted to give something back to them," she said. "I have been knitting a long time. My mum was a great knitter, she made a lot of jumpers and Aran items for the grandchildren.
"I can only do pearl and plain knitting stitches unfortunately, but it does the job.
"I would produce a hat every day and a half. If I take the notion I could knit two in a day.
"I try to take 78 stitches to do 13cms and then cast off and sew it all up. It is a complicated system but once you get used to it it's fine.
"It is so nice to see the little newborns with the hats on. It is a gift for Christmas, a gift of warmth to them from me.
"I do it all year round but this Christmas I knitted little festive hats with sparkly thread and Santa hats for the babies born in and around Christmas.
"If I can give a little hat to the babies to keep them warm after birth, to give to the parents to keep as a little memento of the special time of year that they were born, I think it's a lovely thing to be able to do."
Staff midwife Melissa Crockett says the mums on ante-natal ward love Lizann's Santa hats, but they have a practical medical use as well as a fashionable one.
She said: "Babies lose most of their heat through their head.
"So in the first six hours of life a woollen hat will help them keep their heat in their body which will then help them focus on their adaptation to life outside the womb.
"By wearing a hat they will reduce their risks of reducing their blood sugar and their risk of infection."