We helped Becky following the passing of her baby
5 Min Read
When Becky got pregnant for the first time she had no reason to worry about her pregnancy. She was young, had no health issues and had been classified as low-risk so suitable for midwifery led care. During the 27th week of her pregnancy, she suddenly felt a strong pain in the upper part of her belly (her upper abdomen) and felt her baby move less than before the pain started. That worried her so she visited Watford General Hospital where the attending midwife did a CTG and ultrasound scans to check on the baby’s heartbeat and health which both came back normal.
Two weeks later Becky had her scheduled antenatal scan which showed that her bump was smaller than what it should have been so her midwife tried to refer her to the local Maternity Day Assessment Unit for a review and asked a registrar to do a growth scan. The registrar did the scan and was happy with the weight of Becky’s baby so advised her to continue with her community midwifery care and only go back to hospital if she had further concerns. Becky continued attending her scheduled antenatal appointments and during the next weeks, the midwife was measuring her baby (a measurement called symphysial fundal height – SFH). The measurements were showing that her baby was smaller than average but despite this, she was not referred for growth scans.
In the next 10 weeks of her pregnancy, she had another 2 episodes of reduced foetal movement (her baby moving less in her belly) and rushed back to hospital to make sure her baby was ok. Both times scans were performed that showed her baby’s heartbeat was normal and her concerns were put to rest. When she reached the 39th week of her pregnancy, things changed dramatically as scans showed that both the size of her baby’s head and the size of her bump were getting smaller instead of growing. That change meant that Becky was seen by a specialist registrar who after doing more tests, reassured her that everything was normal and told her to go home and go back to hospital if she had another episode of reduced fetal movement or if she felt abdominal pain or had any bleeding and scheduled a follow up scan to check in on the baby the week after. During this visit Becky could feel that her baby was moving less again but her concerns were dismissed by the doctor. Becky went home but the next morning woke up with contractions. She rang the hospital when the contractions were regular and was advised to stay at home for as long as she could.
Tragically, Becky’s baby had passed away
Whilst still at home she could feel her baby’s movements but by the time she eventually went to hospital she had stopped feeling them altogether. Upon arrival the doctors checked on the baby’s heartbeat but could not find it and told Becky that her baby had passed away. This was all too much for Becky to take in especially as she had followed her doctors’ and midwife’s advice every step of the way. Even though she had not been considered as high risk, she had been careful and alert to any signs showing there may have been an issue with her baby. There had been many opportunities for clinicians to pick up that there was something wrong which could have saved her baby’s life.
The sudden loss of her baby left Becky with prolonged grief disorder and generalised anxiety disorder. When she got pregnant for the second time she was in a constant state of worry. This affected her sleep and made her very vulnerable and reliant on her family for care and support. The level of stress she went through meant she became highly avoidant of social situations and was unable to work or carry out everyday chores. That of course impacted her earnings and made her even more reliant on her family members.
Becky was still heartbroken and needed answers as to why her first baby had died. It was important to her that clinicians would listen to concerns raised by mums so others would not lose their babies like she had. After her stillbirth the hospital had conducted a Serious Incident Investigation Report but the findings of the report did not provide Becky with closure so she came to us for advice on what she could do next.
Becky contacted Enable Law
Our specialist neonatal and stillbirth legal team walked Becky through the process of making a claim. Having decades of experience supporting families that have suffered a stillbirth, Becky’s solicitor was able to provide her with a safe space to unravel her feelings and understand what additional needs the loss left her with. Her solicitor also made contact with the hospital that quickly accepted that they had breached their duty of care towards Becky and her baby and after some time admitted that this substandard care had caused her baby to pass away.
Making a claim meant that Becky got answers as well as an apology from the hospital. It also meant that she got access to funds to undergo therapy to come to terms with her loss. Her grief and anxiety had had a significant impact to her relationship with her husband and second child. With the support of her therapist, we hope that she will be able to make a full recovery but know that there is a chance for her to relapse upon certain big life events and need more professional support to overcome them in the future.