Raising Awareness of Stillbirth and Baby Loss at a Hospital at Hull

More really positive news in the world of stillbirth and baby loss.

A genuine and sincere well done to Hull Women and Children’s Hospital! On 7 June, specialist midwives will remember the precious babies who were taken too soon.

With the help of the charity, Count the Kicks, the first Rainbow Baby Day is being organised to support families who have lost a baby following a miscarriage, stillbirth or death shortly after birth (neonatal death) and who go on to have another child.

According to an article featured in Hull Live, a rainbow banner will be placed in the foyer of the hospital to raise awareness.

Sarah Green, specialist midwife was interviewed by Hull Live and she said that

She said: “Women who have lost a baby before are understandably anxious when they find out they are pregnant again and come back to us.

“To help them, we give them a special wooden rainbow plaque funded by Sands which can be attached to the outside of their door to show staff their new baby is not their first.

“While some women are happy to talk about the baby they have lost, others find it difficult and this stops them having to explain over and over again that this isn’t their first baby”.

What is a rainbow baby?

A rainbow baby is a baby born following the loss of another baby. It is called a rainbow baby because it is like a rainbow after a storm, or after a dark and turbulent time.

For more information please see https://www.hulldailymail.co.uk/news/hull-east-yorkshire-news/rainbow-baby-day-marked-hull-2940888

This is the second well done to Hull Women and Children’s hospital! According to the Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust website, the Trust have reduced stillbirth by 36 per cent from 25 in 2016/17 to 14 so far in 2018/2019 and I have written a blog about this previously https://stillbirthclaims.com/reduction-in-stillbirths-rates-at-hospital-in-hull/

I think this is initiative a such a thoughtful one. It costs very little. It would provide huge comfort to bereaved parents and anything that helps to break the taboo that surrounds stillbirth and neonatal death should be applauded.

I speak firsthand when I say that I know how difficult it is to be pregnant and to give birth after stillbirth. It is akin to mental torture. Naivety and innocence replaced with fear and anxiety. I have never met a bereaved mother who hasn’t found their subsequent pregnancy difficult.

I am very blessed to have gone onto have three rainbow babies. I have experienced one of the the worst outcomes of pregnancy but also the best and for that I feel extremely privileged.

Well done again Hull Women and Children’s hospital. I hope you set a trend and that the idea is taken up by other NHS Trusts throughout the country.

If you or a loved one would like to discuss a stillbirth compensation claim or neonatal death compensation claim, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Midwives Show Support of Bereavement Care Project

The National Bereavement Care Pathway (“NBCP”) are seeking to improve the quality and consistency of bereavement care in NHS trusts following a stillbirth or neonatal death or other baby loss.

Please see my previous post https://stillbirthclaims.com/improving-the-quality-of-care-after-a-stillbirth-or-neonatal-death/

Whilst midwives support this initiative, they have asked for funding for training. This is a fair enough demand. The benefit of the NBCP won’t be maximised unless the health professionals running it are taught how to best offer care.

The pilot project was first introduced across 11 trusts in 2017. It has the aim of helping to ensure bereaved parents are supported in the best way possible. It also aims to end the current postcode lottery facing parents and families of stillborn babies and those who die shortly after birth (neo-natal death).

It is now intended that the project is rolled out throughout all Trusts in England.

An article in the Nursing Times states that the Royal College of Midwives said it supported the call for the pathway’s roll out, but also asked the government to help fund ongoing bereavement training and education for midwives.

Education advisor at the RCM, Gail Johnson, said: “It is clear that this pathway works, and midwives and maternity support workers also appreciate the support this gives them to provide better care for bereaved families. We support the call for this to be introduced in NHS trusts across the country.

“We would like to see the government and trusts investing in this to ensure all parents get the support they need, and to fund ongoing education and training for midwives and their colleagues,” she said.

For more information see https://www.nursingtimes.net/news/policies-and-guidance/midwives-support-call-to-roll-out-baby-bereavement-pathway/7028922.article

If you or a loved one would like to discuss a stillbirth compensation claim or neonatal death compensation claim, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Stillbirth isn’t Hereditary According to Scientists

Following a study of 26,000 mothers and daughters, no link was found between a mothers’ history of stillbirth and their daughters. Previous evidence had suggested that placental insufficiency was hereditary.

Personally, its very reassuring to read that stillbirth isn’t hereditary. I very occassionally think about what i’d do if my own daughters went on to suffer the heartbreak that I had to endure. It’s comforting to read that a genetic link has not been found to be a cause of stillbirth. I’m hoping that this will keep any anxiety at bay.

The University of Aberdeen ran the research project which was conducted in Scotland. No link was established between a mothers’ history of stillbirth and stillbirth in their daughters.

It’s so good to read about this study, to know that money is being given to Universities for research into stillbirth and neonatal death. It’s very hard for anybody wanting to carry out research into stillbirth or neonatal death to get the project off the ground due to a lack of available funding.

More studies please! The more research that is carried out, the more we can better understand stillbirth and neonatal death and the better positioned we will be to lower or stillbirth and neonatal death rate.

If you or a loved one would like to discuss a stillbirth compensation claim or neonatal death compensation claim, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Welsh Hospital in Special Measures Following Review – Increase in Stillbirth and Neonatal Death

An independent review of Cwm Taf maternity services describes it as “under extreme pressure and “dysfunctional”.

Special measures have been put in place prompted by concerns over the death of babies. There were 25 reported serious incidents including eight stillbirths and five neonatal deaths between January 2016 and September 2018.

According to the BBC website, the independent review found that the suspicions and concerns raised by women were not taken seriously whilst there was “little evidence of effective clinical leadership at any level”.

“Many women had felt something was wrong with their baby or tried to convey the level of pain they were experiencing but they were ignored or patronised, and no action was taken, with tragic outcomes including stillbirth and neonatal death of their babies,” the report said.

The BBC reported that further cases should be looked at – going back to 2010 – to “determine the extent of the under-reporting” of issues and to provide assurance to the health board. The review found 11 areas of immediate concern at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital in Llantrisant and Prince Charles in Merthyr Tydfil, including:

  • Often no consultant obstetrician on the labour ward, and difficult to contact
  • Not enough midwives, putting them under “extreme pressure”
  • Consultants were not always available out of hours – and would take 45 minutes to get in
  • “Fragmented” consultant cover while their roster arrangements were “complex and inflexible”
  • High numbers of locum staff at all levels
  • Staff not aware of guidelines, protocols, triggers and escalations
  • “Punitive culture” within the service and staff felt senior management did not listen to their concerns, which they had “voiced repeatedly over a long period of time”

The reference to the lack of Consultant care was something I discussed earlier today in my previous blog: https://stillbirthclaims.com/giving-birth-at-night-or-during-the-weekend-an-increase-in-stillbirth-and-neo-natal-death-compensation-claims/

There had also been 67 stillbirths going back to 2010 which had not been reported for inclusion in statistics for a national database.

It’s very saddening to read this review but equally, reassuring that safeguards are in place to ensure that concerns are investigated (even if it takes time to get to this point).

What happens going forward for now remains to be seen. I hope the families get the answers to questions they want to know and that going forward, the number of stillborn and neonatal death babies reduces and care to women being of the standard that one would expect in a first world country in the 21st century.

If you or a loved one would like to discuss a stillbirth compensation claim or neonatal death compensation claim, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Giving Birth at Night or During the Weekend – an increase in stillbirth and neo-natal death compensation claims?

Here is a link I posted on the Gregory Abrams Davidson’s website recently. I thought I would share it on here too because of its relevance:


If you or a loved one would like to discuss a stillbirth compensation claim or neonatal death compensation claim, please do not hesitate to contact us.

My Appearance in Women’s Health Magazine – My Experience of Stillbirth

I was honoured and privileged to have been asked by Nikki Osman, a journalist at Women’s Health to feature in an article she was writing about stillbirth and its effect on women.

It’s always difficult to recount the stillbirth of Arella but it’s equally cathartic, to honour her memory and ensure that her little life wasn’t lost in vein.

I have copied the information relating to me below but the full article can be found here: https://www.womenshealthmag.com/uk/health/female-health/a26644423/stillbirth-stories/

Before I experienced stillbirth: I’ve always thought of myself as an empathetic person. As a medical negligence solicitor, I dealt with some tragic cases, including stillbirth claims. I’d listened as women told me their stories, I’d cried tears for their babies and I’d read psychiatric reports that laid bare the trauma of losing your child.

I thought I had some grasp of how painful that could be. One of the first things I thought, lying in a hospital bed a week before my due date, hearing that my baby had died, was, ‘Oh, I’m one of those women now.’ It turns out you can never know that pain until you’ve lived it. 

We chose not to find out if we were having a boy or a girl – it didn’t matter to us, we just wanted a healthy baby. I spent a few months feeling nervous, but at the 20-week scan, we were told our baby was healthy and I began to relax.

We’d just moved into our new house and my due date was three months before my 30th birthday. We bought a pram, got the nursery ready, and on a Friday in June, I started my maternity leave.

What happened: The following Thursday – a week before my due date – I had a routine hospital appointment. My mum came with me, and she was at my side when the midwife said she couldn’t find a heartbeat.

I looked at my mum, she looked back at me, and I knew. I called my husband Jonathan and told him to come to the hospital. He told me later he left everything on his desk and ran out the door. He didn’t even close his computer.

People say they’ve had the worst birth ever because the epidural failed or the labour went on for hours. I had to give birth to a child I would never know, on a ward filled with the sound of babies crying. We tried to drown them out with music, but it didn’t work, and it was torture.

She was a she, and she was born around 10pm. We named her Arella. They asked me if I wanted to hold her, but I said no. I didn’t want to know what it was like to hold a dead baby.

I regret that now, but you make the best decision you can at the time. Shortly after, I started to haemorrhage. There were times in the months that followed when I wished I’d bled to death in that hospital bed.

My life after stillbirth: My world became a dark place. I’d get out of bed each morning, but I was going through the motions. My best friends were pregnant, so were both my sisters-in-law, and I couldn’t bear to see them – or anyone else. Jonathan went back to work after a week, but he was hurting.

Men aren’t affected physically, so they’re just expected to get on with it. But he’d lost a child, too, and on top of that he had to watch his wife fall apart.

My very best friends were amazing, because I gave them the tools to be amazing. I’d send emails saying what I needed and what I didn’t. I didn’t want to hear well-meaning platitudes that I’d have another child, that this wasn’t meant to be or that someone understood what I was going through because they’d had a miscarriage.

It’s misconceptions like these that make the grief so much harder to bear. You’re not just grieving for the baby you didn’t bring home. You’re grieving the child, teenager, person they will never grow up to be; you’re grieving the memory of giving birth to death.

What I wanted to hear after stillbirth: What saved me, I think, was Jane, a bereavement midwife specialising in grief who was assigned to me by the hospital. From the first day she arrived in my life, she changed it for the better.

She got me at a time when I felt like no one got me. She understood that my desire to become a mother hadn’t died with my daughter, and she instilled faith in me that I would go on to have more children without diminishing Arella’s memory.

Some days, she helped me to normalise my feelings of anger at the world and envy towards other mothers; others she just held my hand while I cried.

I love her for giving me faith in the future at the time when I needed it most, because she was right. I went on to have three healthy children – children Jane delivered – and they are the most precious things in my life.

My life now: Since going back to work, I’ve specialised in medical negligence in stillbirth, which means it’s my job to make sure that if the NHS trust involved is at fault for a baby’s death, it is held to account. I can’t imagine what it’s like to lose a baby because of someone’s negligence, but I know how to word the letters and what it means when someone uses your child’s name.

My life is so busy now for the best reasons. I don’t dwell on the pain of what I went through, but it doesn’t go away either.

I’ve got another child who’s not with me, and I feel it. I don’t go down the road of ‘what if’, I don’t sign her name on birthday cards, and if a stranger asks how many children I have, I don’t say four. It’s too sad, too uncomfortable. But I do have four children, and only three are at home with me.

If you or a loved one would like to discuss a stillbirth compensation claim or neonatal death compensation claim, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Stillbirth Rate Could be Reduced if Better Care was Given to Twins and Triplets

A research project funded by the Department of Health has revealed that women pregnant with twins and triplets are not all receiving the care that they should be afforded.

Apparently, this poor care is resulting in 100 stillbirths a year. This is shocking to read!

Experts have also found that a failure to adhere to the national guidelines is also leading (in addition to stillbirths) to 630 unnecessary C-Sections and 1,300 infant admissions to Neo-Natal intensive care each year.

It’s logical to read that those maternity units who followed the national NHS guidelines had improved outcomes for twins and triplets and for their mothers.

What is the recommended guidance for women carrying multiple babies? In 2013, the NICE guidelines recommended the following: 1) extra scans. 2) Being cared for by health professionals who specialise in multiple births. 3) Drawing up a detailed care plan. 4) Having a detailed strategy with how to deal with a premature birth.

The Twins and Multiple Births Association (TAMBA) used the term “pot luck” to describe what level of care an expectant mother would receive. It really is saddening to read that some hospitals don’t even follow the NICE guidelines. The NHS just shouldn’t offer a postcode lottery service. There should be standardisation throughout with every woman receiving the same level of care. Multiple births are known to be high risk in nature. Therefore, to not put the suggested measures in place really is appalling.

TAMBA concluded that if all maternity units adhered to the NICE guidelines, our stillbirth rate would drop 70 per cent for multiple birth pregnancies. This would save 100 babies lives a year. It would also save the NHS £8 million an year. If there’s truth to the cliche that money talks, you’d think that this would be a wake up call for the NHS.

If you or a loved one would like to discuss a stillbirth compensation claim or neonatal death compensation claim, please do not hesitate to contact us.

New Powers to Investigate Stillbirth

As things currently stand, Coroners only have the power to investigate the death of a baby who were born breathing. This therefore prevents parents of stillborn babies who appear healthy from being able to investigate the death of their babies through the Coroner’s Court.

This may all change under new Government legislation which would enable Coroners to investigate stillbirths. It is the intended benefit that widening the Coroner’s powers to include investigating stillbirths would help prevent future stillbirths and improve maternal care.

On 26 March 2019, the Government launched a consultation on proposals to give coroners the power to investigate all full-term stillbirths . The impact of this would be massive. Not only would it provide parents with vital information on what went wrong and why, it would also ensure that any mistakes are identified to prevent future deaths.

We don’t know enough about why babies die. According to the SANDS website, 6 out of 10 stillbirths are unexplained. If we don’t know why babies die, we aren’t going to reduce our shocking statistics. Widening the Coroner’s powers would lead to more transparency for bereaved parents who are left desperately seeking answers as to why their seemingly healthy babies are stillborn.

According to the Government website, under the proposed system:

  • Coroners will have powers to investigate all full-term stillbirths occurring from 37 weeks pregnancy
  • The coroner will consider whether any lessons can be learned which could prevent future stillbirths
  • Coroners will not have to gain consent or permission from any third party in exercising this power
  • Coronial investigations will not replace current investigations undertaken by the hospital or NHS agencies

These measures are an important step towards delivering the government’s commitment to reduce the rate of stillbirths as outlined in Saving Babies’ Lives.

The consultation is running for 12 weeks until the 18 June 2019. To take part please see https://consult.justice.gov.uk/digital-communications/coronial-investigations-of-stillbirths/

If you or a loved one would like to discuss a stillbirth compensation claim or neonatal death compensation claim, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Each Baby Counts: 2018 Progress Report

“Each Baby Counts” is the Royal College of Obstetrician and Gynaecologist’s (“RCOG”) national quality improvement programme to reduce the number of babies who die or are left severely disabled as a result of incidents occurring during labour (see earlier blog).

The key findings of the Report are as follows:

• Of the nearly 700,000 babies born in 2016, 1,123 babies fulfilled the Each Baby Counts criteria. There were 124 stillbirths, 145 babies who died early and 854 babies who sustained severe brain injuries during labour at term (babies born after 37 completed weeks of gestation).

• The number of incidents where different care might have led to a different outcome still remains too high, with 71% babies who might have had a different outcome with different care.

• For the babies reported to Each Baby Counts, the reviewers concluded that there was rarely one single cause of the stillbirth, early neonatal death or brain injury. The report identified an average of seven critical contributory factors for each baby where different care might have had made a difference to the outcome.

• In almost half (45%) of these affected babies, guidelines and best practice were not followed. Reasons for not following guidelines included gaps in training, lack of recognition of problems, heavy workload, staffing levels and local guidelines not being based on best available evidence.

Amy Bennett, medical negligence Solicitor who acts on behalf of numerous bereaved families, believes that “The Each Baby Counts project is a significant step towards the recognition of the unacceptable high levels of avoidable stillbirth, neonatal death and brain damage cases as well as recognition of the life changing effects losing a baby or raising a severely brain damaged baby can have on a family. The findings of the 2018 Progress Report do not look promising at all in terms of meeting the targets set but time will tell.

If you or a family member or friend would like to discuss your potential stillbirth, neonatal death or brain damage claim, you should contact a specialist Stillbirth and Neonatal claim solicitor.

If you or a loved one would like to discuss a stillbirth compensation claim or neonatal death compensation claim, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Campaign for Safer Births

I recently came across “Campaign for Safer Births” an organisation set up by two mothers in memory of their sons, Louie and Harry, both of whom died as a result of negligence during labour.

The Campaign’s mission is to improve NHS Maternity Services in order to reduce the avoidable deaths and injuries of babies and mothers during labour.

They highlight the scale of the problem on their website

http://www.campaignforsaferbirths.co.uk/page1.html, providing the following data:

* Over 500 babies are dying unnecessarily every year in labour or soon after, Perinatal Mortality Report 2009, Centre for Maternal and Child Enquiries 2011 & ITV Tonight programme

* The cost of litigation relating to obstetric mistakes was £3.1 billion over 10 years to March 2010. Obstetrics is the highest area of litigation by cost, NHS Litigation Authority Report: Ten Years of Maternity Claims An Analysis of NHS Litigation Authority Data, October 2012

* The UK has very poor stillbirth rates 33rd out of 35 similar high income countries, V Flenady et al. Stillbirths: the way forward in high-income countries. The Lancet 2011, Vol. 377, Issue 9778, Pages 1703-1717

* Having a baby through the night or at the weekend is associated with a 45% increased risk of neonatal death due to oxygen starvation during the birth. This is thought to be due to poor staffing and junior doctors being left alone, even though 70% of babies are born through the night 38 D Pasupathy, A Wood, J Pell, H Mechan, M Fleming, GCS Smith. Time of birth and risk of neonatal death at term: retrospective cohort study, BMJ 2010

* Overstretched maternity wards having to turn women away – An RCM report found more than half of NHS trusts had to close their door an average of seven times a year, Royal College Midwives: State of Maternity Services Report, 2012

* Lack of Consultant cover Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) agree that 24/7 consultant cover is required urgently

* Hospitals not consistently following national NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) guidelines procedures and staffing levels

* Midwife numbers not keeping pace with the rising birth rate

* Lack of quality control and monitoring both internally and externally and lack of Coroner involvement – Coroners are involved in all deaths that are sudden, unexpected or due to neglect, except for babies dying at birth. Why?

* Hospitals not disclosing their mistakes and therefore not learning

The facts and statistics speak for themselves. Urgent change is required to reduce our unacceptably high stillbirth and neonatal death rate.

If you or a loved one would like to discuss a stillbirth compensation claim or neonatal death compensation claim, please do not hesitate to contact us.