LETTER:How hospital saved my son

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The Independent Online
From Mrs Susan Wilde

Sir: Thanks to Professor Chris Redman ("Mother died in Childbirth, dear. In 1995", 20 March), I no longer feel heretical.

A year ago, my baby was overdue by about a week and I had begun to feel tired. My blood pressure had risen, slightly, and I was admitted to hospital. Bed rest was tried, to reduce my blood pressure, but when that did not happen quite shortly, I was persuaded that I should be induced. I was resistant to the idea. I was even more resistant to the proposed constant foetal heart rate monitoring, which meant equipment strapping me to a machine and restricting my movement.

As soon as I had a contraction, my baby's heartbeat slowed dramatically. I recall looking at the trace and calling the midwife, expecting to be reassured. She called the obstetric registrar, who was not reassuring and hardly left my bedside thereafter. At the third contraction, the heartbeat disappeared, to return after the contraction subsided. I was delivered, within an hour, at 11pm, by caesarean section

On the operating table, I recall hearing an announcement over a tannoy system, "flat baby in theatre", as soon as I had been delivered. I did not think it referred to mine. His heart had been beating: I had seen the trace myself. Our son, on arrival, was found to have deeply inhaled meconium and to be unable to breathe. A crash team on standby in the (large) hospital was there within a minute. They saved his life. If they had not been there, he would have been brain damaged.

Had I adhered to my fashionable view and insisted on the freedom to move during labour unencumbered by monitoring equipment, or had I been in my second pregnancy and opted for a home birth (which I certainly would have preferred), we would not just have celebrated the first birthday of a beautiful, bright, and intelligent little boy. If middle-class mothers (like myself) must enjoy their "wholemeal and lentils" approach to childbirth, let them at least know the price they and their baby might have to pay.

Yours sincerely,

SUSAN WILDE

Fleet, Hampshire

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