Supporting Families, Preventing Tragedies

George and Elliot


George and Elliot

Friday, 13 March 2009 and Wednesday, 4 November 2009

This story is mostly about the stillbirth of my son, Elliott at 29 weeks but I also feel the need to allude briefly to talk about the brief life of my son George. I miscarried George at 12 weeks. The reason given for my miscarriage was a severe case of urosepsis. Basically I had had a urine infection which, despite several trips to the doctors and hospitals with abdominal pain, was not picked up until it was too late and I miscarried George who was chromosomally normal.

I have chosen not go into detail here as this was a medical than maternity failing, except to say, that twice now my husband and I have been told people needed to have been more on their toes and that the losses of my babies were preventable.

I have very little faith in the maternity system or indeed the entire health system.

Four weeks after losing George, I was delighted to discover I was pregnant again. As well as George, I had had another miscarriage as well. Elliott was to be our first living child.

I promptly contacted an independent midwife, and appointment was made for me when I was 8 weeks. However I began bleeding and I went to hospital, where I was diagnosed with a subchorionic heamorrage , a kind of condition where a clot attaches to the placenta. On the advice of my GP, I went on modified bedrest. I also contacted the midwife to tell her about the problem. She decided that she was not comfortable as my care had become too complicated and she would refer me to the High Risk Clinic.

At least that was what I understood. I contacted the High Risk Clinic several times over the next few weeks and had never heard of me .During this wait my original midwife fobbed me off or was not available to speak to me about the referral. I also saw in my referral notes that she had diagnosed me with anxiety. I have never been diagnosed with anxiety in actual fact this ‘anxiety’ she spoke of was actually my anxious reaction to a stressful situation.

It transpired that I had been referred to the Low Risk Clinic. The midwife from the Low Risk Clinic rang me and was not prepared to see me until 14 weeks. She had not even had the decency to read my notes and had no knowledge of my previous miscarriages or current complications. I was not happy with the idea of this woman managing my pregnancy so at 10 weeks I had to undertake a scramble around for a midwife who was available for my birth in January.

I contacted an independent midwife whose care was satisfactory. My pregnancy for the next nineteen weeks was seemingly unremarkable. However when viewed retrospectively I believe there were a lot of things that were amiss and weren’t followed up on.

At 20 weeks my baby was found to be in the lowest percentile and I was told I must have my dates wrong by a radiographer. Although this concerned me I was reassured that everything was alright. I now know that was the first sign of trouble.

My 24 week appointment was supposedly all hunky dory although my blood pressure was rising. This appointment was very rushed.

At 28weeks 6 days, I felt concerned about the lack of movement I had felt. I rang my midwife who said that I should come in so she could hear the heartbeat and I would be reassured. She could not find a heartbeat so sent me for a scan. The scan confirmed my baby had stopped growing at 26 weeks and had died most probably died in the few days prior.

The next day I delivered my perfect but still boy, Elliott James. The autopsy revealed that their had been blood clots to the placenta and I had developed pre-eclampsia and gestational hypertension.

I do not believe that there was one single action that led to untimely passing of Elliott however I do believe it was poorly managed from the start and this all contributed to an adverse outcome. It was also in parts an unnecessarily negative experience.

I can not believe that independent midwives are allowed to pick, choose and dump mothers as they please. I am disappointed that despite my earlier losses and complications in the pregnancy as well as the fact that I was older, having a first (full term) pregnancy and overweight, I was treated as low risk as other women especially when my baby was so small. I believe that just one more appointment would have saved Elliott’s life.

I do not believe that the current maternity system in this country offers choice to woman as claimed. I believe the maternity system serves to protect the needs of midwives and allow them to continue with their mantra that birth is a normal life experience.

For some of us childbirth is anything but ‘normal’ it is traumatic and devastating experience.


Red Flags

        RED FLAGS

  • Lack of monitoring
  • “Normalising” the abnormal
  • Lack of action/delay in getting emergency care
  • Going over due date
  • Failure to progress in labour
  • Meconium-stained liquor (waters)
  • Lengthy handover during emergency
  • Inconsistent reporting and documentation
  • Your concerns being ignored

    Click here to read more about common warning signs


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