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Ludlow home birth parents raise concerns

By Thomas Morton | Ludlow | Health | Published:

A father whose baby was born at home without a midwife has said he believes the current on-call system is not safe.

Kay Smith, Owyn Hicks and their newborn baby Lliana Hicks

Mother Kay Smith, 27, became the second mother in as many months to give birth at home in Ludlow without a midwife present when baby Lliana Hicks was born at 6.13am on June 17.

Bosses at SaTH said her case was not related to the the temporary closure of Ludlow's midwife-led unit at the time, as Kay had opted for a home birth with an on-call midwife – and the baby simply came very fast.

But now father Owyn Hicks, 20, has said the only reason the family opted for a home birth was because they could not be sure the Ludlow unit would be open, and they had been assured a home birth would be safe.

But on the day he said he ended up making four calls to emergency services between 4.56am and the baby's arrival and while paramedics turned up quickly to help, the baby had to be kept with its umbilical cord attached for nearly 20 minutes until a midwife arrived on scene.

Owyn, a groundworker, said the Ludlow unit has been shutting regularly due to staffing issues this year, so they felt it wasn't an option. But, he said, they thought a home birth would mean they didn't have to risk having to driving to Shrewsbury or Telford or waiting for an ambulance from there.

"I can't drive and Kay wouldn't be able to and nobody wants to risk having their baby on the side of the road.

"Because she wanted the baby in Ludlow she had to have it at home because the unit wasn't open.

"They promised it would be 100 per cent safe and there would be two midwives on call."

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He said he understood guidelines suggested on call midwives should be 25 minutes away, but one of them was in the Shrewsbury area and the other, though said to be in the Ludlow area, couldn't have been in Ludlow itself, he said, as she took more than an hour to get to them and was held up in roadworks.

"Ludlow isn't that big – you can walk anywhere in Ludlow in an hour," he said.

Furthermore the midwife did not have her kit with her and was not told the Ludlow unit was shut so wasted time trying to get in there and in the end had to use the paramedics equipment.

Anthea Gregory-Page, deputy head of midwifery at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust, previously apologised that the on-call midwife was unable to arrive before Kay's home birth.

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She said “In this case, there were two on-call midwives, which is normal for all home births, and had Ludlow MLU been open, our process would have been exactly the same.

“In some instances birth can be a very rapid process, as was the case here.

“We have offered to speak to the mum in this case about any concerns she may have,” she said.

Thomas Morton

By Thomas Morton
@tmorton_star

Senior reporter for the Shropshire Star

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