A safe pregnancy is every mother’s dream. But this dream can only come true when you have support at home and a good gynaecologist who can take care of your newborn.
Unfortunately, this was not the case with New Zealand mum Limna Polly. At week 22 of her pregnancy, she started experiencing severe bleeding and abdominal pain. But the staff at the Auckland District Health Board said there was nothing to worry about.
The result of this alleged negligence was heartbreaking, to say the least. Not only were the delivery room procedures wrong, but Limna's baby failed to survive too.
Delivery room procedures weren’t followed for this mum
The mum, who was pregnant last year, was unsure of her pregnancy health and so went to Auckland City Hospital for a quick checkup. But, she was sent home after tests showed that her baby has a strong heartbeat. Unfortunately, her symptoms worsened further and she returned the next day to the hospital.
According to a report in New Zealand Herald, 35-year-old Limna shared that when her pain intensified, she immediately knew that her baby was coming. However her midwife only gave her laughing gas to ease the pain.
No one allegedly bothered to physically examine the mum and see if it was contractions that were causing her pain.
Newborn dropped on the hospital floor
While Limna screamed and cried from the excruciating pain for over three hours, her husband and her 10-year-old daughter watched her helplessly. In fact, not a single doctor came to help her while the mum was in labour.
Finally, a female doctor came into the delivery room, but according to the family, Limna was asked to “shut up”. Her husband said, “No woman can keep her mouth shut or lower their screaming when she is delivering a baby – and my wife was giving birth to our baby boy at that time.”
Within seconds, much to everybody’s horror, they saw the newborn pop out and land directly on the floor.
Despite the medical staff’s help to revive the kid, the little boy died 90 minutes later. The devastated family named their lost child Siddhartha after Buddha.
The sound of her newborn dropping on the floor still haunts Limna
While over a year has gone by, the pain of losing a child is unbearable and it is more tragic in the case of Limna. She shared that the sound of her baby landing on the floor still haunts her.
The distraught parents, who are New Zealand citizens, believe racism is the reason why their son didn’t survive.
The mum was quoted saying, “I felt like they didn’t even want to touch me because of the colour of my skin.”
Status of the complaint
Auckland District Health Board mentioned that the family’s complaint “didn’t meet the criteria” to be reported to an independent body, Health Quality & Safety Commission, for a review.
As a result, the baby’s death was not referred to the coroner for investigation by the board.
The board’s management said they were “very sorry for [the family’s] personal experience of our care". They further acknowledged there was work to do in regards to “equitable care to all those who come through our women’s health services.”
It was six months ago that family submitted a formal complaint to New Zealand’s health watchdog, the Health and Disability Commission. But they are still awaiting the decision on whether the body will probe baby Siddhartha’s death.
But the fact is that had delivery room procedures been followed thoroughly, this tragedy could have been averted.
5 delivery room procedures that ensure your newborn’s safety
No matter whether you have a vaginal delivery or a caesarean section, there are certain delivery room procedures that are followed to ensure the safety of the mother and the newborn.
The first step starts with reaching the hospital in time, followed by labour that can last multiple hours. So be prepared to spend long hours inside the delivery room.
1. The delivery
If it is a vaginal birth, the baby will slide out slowly in waves as your uterus contracts. As the baby comes out, it will turn to the side naturally. This is where the staff needs to be extremely careful while handling the baby as the baby is still covered with vernix caseosa, a cheese-like substance, and may be slippery.
2. Cleaning the baby
After your baby comes out, the doctor will clamp and cut the umbilical cord. It is usually clamped immediately after birth. But, according to a new study, delaying cord clamping after birth by five minutes can have positive effects on the brain structure of newborn infants.
After the cord is cut, the medical staff will then clean the baby’s nose and mouth with a bulb syringe. They may also use a clean towel to wipe away the fluid and the membrane from the baby’s airway.
3. Providing warmth for the newborn
A newborn baby is wet from the amniotic fluid and can easily become cold. Drying the baby and using warm blankets and heat lamps can help prevent heat loss.
Placing a baby skin-to-skin on your chest or abdomen also helps to keep the baby warm. This early skin-to-skin contact also reduces crying, improves your interaction with your baby, and will help you to breastfeed successfully.
4. Immediate tests on the newborn
One of the first checks is the Apgar test. The Apgar test is a scoring system that evaluates the condition of the newborn at one minute and five minutes after birth. The baby’s pulse rate, muscle tone, reflex and skin colour will be taken into account for the score.
A score of seven to 10 is considered normal. A score of four to six may mean that the baby may require careful monitoring. If the score is three or below means that the baby needs rescue breathing and lifesaving techniques.
5. Physical examination of the newborn
At this time, some other important activities like measuring the child’s temperature, heartbeat and respiratory rate will be done. The baby’s weight, length and head circumference will be measured. This will reveal whether the baby’s measurements are normal.
Remember that small or underweight babies and very large babies may need special attention and care.
Once the baby’s temperature has stabilised, they can be given their first bath (this may not be the case in most cases or as advised by the doctor). Along with the baby, the mum’s vitals will also be monitored. For instance, checking on her temperature and her blood pressure.
If there are signs the baby is not doing well, treatment can be given right in the delivery room. Babies who may have trouble at birth include those born prematurely, or those born with a birth defect.
Fortunately, neonatal medical care is available and they should be transferred immediately to NICU. This is the reason why you need to choose the hospital where you will deliver and your gynaecologist carefully. In fact, if it is a planned pregnancy, you should do your research well in advance.
This article was first published in theAsianparent.