"Never ignore reduced movements" - Samantha's story #FullTermFeelings

Sam 1

Samantha's daughter Abbie was born at 38 weeks after experiencing reduced movements towards the end of her pregnancy. For Full Term Awareness Month, she shares her neonatal story.

My pregnancy with my second child went smoothly until 35 weeks when something didn’t feel right.

I had growth scans as my baby’s movements slowed down a lot. I was going in every day for monitoring but they couldn't find anything wrong.

Then at about 37 and a half weeks, I was due to go in on the Tuesday for a growth scan, but on the Saturday before I became so poorly that my partner took me straight to the hospital. I was admitted so I could be monitored every six hours.

The medical team were gradually getting more and more unhappy with the results so they kept me in for two weeks until the growth scan. My baby hadn’t grown - she'd gained a couple of grams when she should have gained a pound over those two weeks. So told me I was going up to be induced.

I'd already been in hospital for three days, barely slept, and now I had to be induced to give birth. I thought, how am I going to do this?

With my first daughter, I was induced and it worked within the hour. This time, I knew it was going to take longer because she wasn't quite 38 weeks and not ready to come out.

They induced me at about 11 am and by 7 pm I was having regular enough contractions, but they sent me down to delivery because they weren't happy with my CTG monitoring again.

After going on like that for a couple of hours, a consultant came over and spoke to me and said, “I think very likely it's going to be a caesarean.” At that point, I just accepted it even though it wasn’t what I originally wanted.

After five and a half hours, I was only one centimetre dilated, attached to a CTG, and they still weren't happy with things like her variability. In the end, I said, “Why don't we just skip a step? Let's just go for a caesarean.” I was mentally prepared for it by that point.

At bang on 38 weeks, Abbie was born.

The caesarean itself was quite nice. I had a really nice anaesthetist who talked me through it, but in the back of my mind, I was thinking, what's going to happen when she gets out? What's she going to be like? My other half wondered if she was going to be brain-dead - we didn't know what was wrong at this point.

When she was born, they took her over to the table, and I was chatting away - I could hear her, she was breathing, she was not blue, she was crying, but they weren't bringing her over. They weren't happy with her colour and she was born very small; she was five pounds and four ounces.

I was told that they were just giving her oxygen and I started to get worried, because they should have passed her over to me by now, but the nurse said that she was still not breathing as well as she should have been on her own.

I then heard the words that nobody ever wants to hear, “We're going to have to take her out to neonatal,” and my heart sank.

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I was left in the room by myself because I sent my other half down to the unit with her - I thought she needed him more than I did. I was on my own left in this room to recover from a caesarean with no baby and no partner, not knowing what had happened to my baby.

About an hour later, my partner Tom came back and told me that our baby had been connected to all the machines and was being tested.

It turned out that I’d had a foetal maternal haemorrhage. A part of my baby’s placenta had split, and she had lost a lot of blood. It's very hard to detect but one of the few ways to detect it is reduced movements, which I'd had.

Once they knew what was wrong, they gave her some iron and antibiotics. She was in an incubator for the first 12 hours but was thriving after that. I remember thinking, I don't want to introduce my oldest daughter to her little sister when she’s in an incubator, as it looked intimidating and scary.

I'd gone down to see Abbie at about 7:30 am and then again at 10:30 am, before going back upstairs to get a bit of sleep. Tom then went to see her and he phoned me to say they were going to take her out of the incubator because her breathing was good.

We had to keep her on iron and folic acid for six weeks afterwards but otherwise, she's absolutely fine, she's just two pounds smaller than the average baby her age.

The doctor came to see us in the neonatal unit while I was practising breastfeeding. I remember him saying that if the labour had gone any further, it would have been a very different outcome - she would have probably been severely anaemic and there was a chance she might not have made it.

It was so scary that it could quite easily have not been okay.

Even though we were only in the NICU for 40 hours, it felt like a lifetime. It was a lot of going back and forth, with so many thoughts and questions going through my head and struggling to process all of the information being thrown at me.

The staff at the Royal United Hospitals Bath are great. They never made me feel like I was wasting anybody's time. They took it all seriously.

The ward in Bath is great too, and we were given Abbie’s wires when we were discharged. They are locked away in a box and right now I can't look at them, but I have them for when I am ready.

The stats for foetal maternal haemorrhage are really scary – the doctor said the average survival chance is around 33 to 50%. Those stats stuck with me because it’s not an easy one to detect.

I asked the doctor, “Was it something I did? Could it have been that I lifted something too heavy?” And he said, “No, it's just one of those things that happens.” So, I would say to other parents, never ignore reduced movements!

Sam 3