the place where giving birth is part of life

Entrance to the Special Care Baby Unit
Entrance to the Special Care Baby Unit

KEEPING women and their unborn babies as healthy as possible and then ensuring the best possible outcome when giving birth is what Victoria Hospital’s maternity unit is all about.

And Dr Graham Tydeman, a consultant obstetrician specialising in foetal medicine, is keen to stress that the maternity unit at Kirkcaldy’s Victoria Hospital is completely different to the rest of the hospital, because the majority of those coming through its doors are not ill.

Dr Tydeman oversees a scan

Dr Tydeman oversees a scan

“The maternity ward is where people walking in off the street are saying ‘I am healthy. Keep me this way.’

“There’s a difference between the positive medical experience associated with the risks we have to look out for, and illness that the rest of the hospital is dealing with,” he explained.

“We want to send out the message that having a baby is a healthy business so, even in appearance, the minute you step through the maternity wing doors, the look of the place is a lot less clinical and a lot more relaxed than in other departments.”

Dr Tydeman (51), who lives at the foot of the Lomond Hills, has worked in Fife for the past 14 years, helping to ensure the best possible outcome for both mothers and their babies.

He says it is not uncommon for him to work 16 hour shifts “because once you have started a process you want to see it through to its conclusion,” he said.

And thousands of Fife women have reason to be grateful for his services over the years, having had his intervention for complicated pregnancies, babies not growing properly, birth defects and many other scenarios.

Fetal medicine has come a long way over the years and whereas several decades ago the detection of birth defects would lead to women being advised to terminate a pregnancy, nowadays most – around 80 per cent – receive treatment allowing them not just to survive, but to manage their conditions and have a decent quality of life.

“Recently we had one baby which was detected with a heart problem in the womb, and we were able to treat the baby by giving the mother drugs to make the baby better before it was even born,” said Dr Tydeman.

“There are increasing numbers of cases where we can improve the outcome by detecting conditions and abnormalities earlier on, and that will continue.”