A MUM's premature baby died after she gave birth in the toilet of a hospital which has been condemned over newborn deaths.
Cerys Blackwell was just 23 weeks pregnant when she gave birth to Bobby James Blackwell at Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales.
She only saw her baby for moments before he was taken away and declared dead on April 15, 2017.
Mrs Blackwell opened up about her traumatic experience as part of an independent review into maternity services at Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board.
It found a catalogue of serious failings "from board to ward" and was placed into special measures earlier this week.
She said: “I have experienced nightmares and panic attacks ever since.
“I felt like I didn’t really matter [to the staff] because we were not at term. Some of the staff were great and supportive – but many did not care.
“I did not feel safe even though I was in hospital, and I would fear the weekends and the nights when I knew the wards were understaffed.”
'I didn't feel safe'
Mrs Blackwell had a whole host of complications and needed multiple stays in hospital throughout her pregnancy.
She was admitted to Prince Charles Hospital on April 13, 2017, because of concerns about bleeding and a blod clot.
Mrs Blackwell said the doctor wanted to run tests but "like on other occasions, other staff took over and I don’t feel like they observed me as well as they should have".
She said: “Samples went missing and results were not interpreted correctly during changeovers."
The doctor said with it being a bank holiday weekend there was not a lot they could do anyway
Despite the staff initially treating her situation with caution and even giving her a private room, two days later a consultant told her she was able to go home.
She said: “The previous day I was told to only get up out of bed to use the toilet due to my water leaking and blood loss, so I was a little taken aback at being told I was medically fit to go home.
“I asked about my leaking fluid, my cramps and regular contractions throughout the Friday morning and my severe back pain.
“She could see I was nervous, but she said to go home and take things easy. She said with it being a bank holiday weekend there was not a lot they could do anyway.”
'Staff laughed at us'
After much deliberation – and feeling very unsteady on her feet – she called her father for a lift home to Ystrad Mynach.
But as soon as they got back Cerys said she felt “a pop” in the centre of her pelvis.
“ I could see puddles on the floor and my jeans were wet. My dad called the labour ward straight away,” she said.
When they got to the labour ward, Cerys said the staff “laughed” at how anxious her father was.
“The midwife kept referring to how she had never seen anyone in such a state. They suggested that he was overreacting.”
Before long her mum and husband, Chris Blackwell, arrived at Prince Charles Hospital.
“The contractions became more painful. I became very hot and the midwife got me a fan to cool me down. She also got me a pad as I was bleeding again. But she kept on leaving for periods of time.
“The pain was becoming so bad that I was screaming out for help. At points I was tearing my husband’s t-shirt in pain. It was unbearable.”
Cerys said she couldn’t be offered any pain relief until a doctor was able to review her, which took almost two hours.
She was initially given gas and air which made her even more unwell and sick.
'They weren't taking me seriously'
“I was asked what pain relief I wanted but at this point I couldn’t speak. The doctor left, and the lady with her took the scanning machine that I thought they were going to use on me to check the baby.
“I became very anxious at the point as I felt like they weren’t taking me seriously.”
Cerys claims the consultant carried out a speculum which suggested that her waters hadn’t broken.
“My stomach pain was constant and I felt constipated. I asked if I could use the toilet and they agreed it was okay to do so.
“I hung onto my husband who basically carried me to the toilet and I started to feel very faint. I sat on the toilet and pushed a little bit and the pain seemed to ease.
The pain was so awful that I was holding onto a wall, my ears were ringing and my vision was becoming blurred
“I kept getting up and sitting down in distress. The pain was so awful that I was holding onto a wall, my ears were ringing and my vision was becoming blurred.
"I became so distressed that I stripped off all my clothes and I felt more urges to push, realising that this wasn’t the need for the toilet.
“I screamed to Chris to get someone because while I was holding onto the wall I could feel the baby’s head and he could see the top of his head too.
“He ran and shouted for the midwives to come in. I was told to push, the cord was cut and one midwife left quickly with our baby, while the other stayed.
“I threw my arms around my husband and cried, telling him I was sorry.”
While Cerys said the two midwives who delivered the baby were incredibly supportive and helpful, the doctor was nowhere to be seen.
“The doctor, nor the midwife who were meant to be caring for me came back. This made me even more upset.
"Their attitude towards me was neglectful when I was in extreme pain and they then showed no care or remorse after my baby had been born and died.
“I look back now and can’t understand how they went home knowing they did nothing to help support me.”
Bobby was born weighing just 1lb but died shortly after birth.
His post-mortem showed that he had severe chorioamnionitis, an inflammation of the foetal membranes due to a bacterial infection contracted on delivery.
Survival rates of babies born at 23 weeks are as low as 13 per cent.
Cerys said: “I blamed myself entirely. I felt I had failed him by not being able to keep him safe, bit being able to carry him to term.
“We spent the night in a family room with him thanks to a cold cot. He was perfect and we were able to say exactly who he looked like.”
Since the horrendous incident, Cerys has had therapy and counselling to help her come to terms with what happened.
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“For a very long time I was unable to go to the car or use the toilet,” she said.
Looking back, Cerys said she clearly showed signs of infection in the lead-up to the delivery.
“I will always wonder if things could have been prevented.”
Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board carried out an investigation into the baby’s death and concluded that there was no breach in the duty of care.
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