Rebecca’s story

I’m reaching out to all parents-to-be to highlight the dangers of a procedure called External Cephalic Version (ECV), ECV is a procedure whereby a doctor gently manipulates your baby, anytime from 36 weeks of pregnancy, externally by hand round into a head down (cephalic) position.

When I found out my darling daughter was breech I was given a choice to either book in for a C-section or try ECV. After days and weeks of research and discussing our options with my husband, we agreed to opt for ECV, to see if our daughter would turn to aid a natural delivery.
In our minds we wanted to give her a chance.

We were informed of the risks involved by a leaflet we were given and also by the doctor who performed the ECV. Risks being that I could go into labour, placenta abruption or cord compression. All these risks I was assured were very, very small and that I would be monitored for 30 minutes after procedure, if anything went wrong they would see a dip in my daughters heart rate straight away within this time. Nothing would go wrong after the 30 minutes.
At 36+4 weeks into my perfectly healthy pregnancy I attended for ECV.
This procedure was uncomfortable – as expected – but the process seemed reasonably controlled.
After 10-15 minutes the doctor confirmed my daughter was head down and I was hooked up to the monitor – as expected – for 30 minutes.
My daughter seemed very happy on the monitor and I was discharged for home to ‘await events’.

I was so excited to be on my way to having my third natural delivery and meeting my second daughter. I had a celebratory lunch out with my best friend, a little sore, but so relieved and happy.
That night I had realised I had not felt my daughter move since the procedure.

To cut a painful heart breaking story short, our daughters death was confirmed to me at 11pm – 12 hours after being discharged earlier that day. Life as I knew it had now changed forever, my dreams, hopes and wishes for my families future had been shattered. I had to tell my poor husband by phone that our daughter had gone. Memories of that whole day forever haunt my dreams, the flash backs are like living nightmares attacking me during each day.

The next hours were a blur, a blur of tears, screams, shock, bewilderment and sounds coming from me that will forever haunt me. I couldn’t help but automatically link her death to the ECV. At the end of the day just that morning I awoke to her happy hiccupping away and moving around inside of me, how could she now be dead?

Despite my obvious reactions all the midwives and doctors assured us that Rebecca’s heart tracing was 100% normal and there were no signs of distress. Rebeccas death was just a tragic coincidence.

Our beautiful daughter Rebecca Florence was born into the world silently on the 5th March 2015 , just 2 days after arriving to attend ECV- a healthy 7lb 8oz perfect girl to add to our family. I cannot thank the two midwives (one being a friend of mine already of whom I shared my pregnancy with) for enabling me to have the most perfect, relaxing birth. The birth I planned for.

For the next 28 hours my husband and I made precious memories with Rebecca, we dressed, cuddled, kissed and rocked her. Rebecca’s grandparents and brother came to meet and hold her. Time was so important and we had to make every minute count. Many photos were taken, we also had hand/foot prints and casts taken with the help of our bereavement midwife.

There are no words to describe saying goodbye to Rebecca, leaving the hospital without her whilst other parents proudly walked out with their newborns in a carseat. We walked out with a box of memories, an empty heart and aching arms.

There are no words to describe having to come home to the house we planned to raise Rebecca in, the nursery so carefully and lovingly made ready for her. Walls still smelling of fresh paint holds a memory of decorating as a family, my children helping to paint and decorate. The draws filled with her pretty pink clothes I so carefully folded on my bump, the crisp pink sheets ready laid on her cot and moses basket, the pushchair painstakingly chosen sat waiting to be filled, teddies that will never be cuddled. All now just a painful reminder of what should’ve been.

On the 21st May we attended the same hospital for the results of Rebecca’s post mortem. The fear I had that our consultant would say it was my fault filled me with so much anxiety. I was shaking and crying, I couldn’t stop. I knew the statistics, I had done my research. I knew that around 50% of stillbirths leave no answers for the parents – tests come back inconclusive. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to hear. But to our utter shock we heard something we never thought was possible. We learnt our daughter died from an acute brain haemorrhage. The consultant looked at me and admitted this was solely caused by too much pressure applied by the doctor whilst performing ECV – The doctor pushed so hard on my daughters head that a blood vessel burst causing a bleed across her whole brain – killing her within an hour. A risk that had never been mentioned – A death that has never occurred before.

So, after all those weeks I battled with the guilt that ECV caused our baby to die, but being promised that this was not so. Yet now, confirmed by Rebecca’s post mortem, my fears were made into a reality. Our daughter did die as a result of ECV, but not from a risk we were told about, but by the pure incompetence of the doctor in charge of her care. She didn’t just die, she was killed.

I tell our story, not to scare parents, as I know from all my own research that ECV can be and in most cases are, successful. I tell our story to make all mothers-to-be aware of ALL the dangers.
Too much pressure to the head was not detailed on the leaflet or on any website we found. God only knows had we have known this we would not have even entertained the thought of ECV.
To make matters even worse, our daughter was monitored under the NHS guidelines of 30 minutes after ECV. She was indeed alive, but unknown to us all she was already unconscious. Our daughter died 1 hour after the procedure – 30 minutes after coming off the monitor.
Unbelievably it has been confirmed by our consultant that should our daughter have been monitored for an extra 30 minutes, her heart rate would have dipped, I would have had emergency c-section, pressure on her brain would have been relieved and not only would she have lived, she is likely to not have been brain damaged at all.
The extra 30 minutes would have saved my daughter.

I tell our story and share my blog to inform you all we will soon be campaigning to send a petition to Parliament, to in turn be directed to The Department Of Health to review current practices in ECVs, to extend the monitoring time before and more importantly after an ECV procedure to at least an hour. We will also be requesting a review into the data on risks of ECV and to make sure our daughters death is acknowledged in data and statistics.

We are hoping our campaign can be reach as many parents possible to make them aware of ALL dangers of ECV. So they can make a sound decision on whether they choose this procedure for their baby.
There should be more monitoring and protection for these babies whose lives are literally turned upside down.

In time we want our daughters story heard by everyone and everyone who has been given the chance for ECV.

We wish we had known the risk.

We need her story heard. Rebecca deserves justice and acknowledgment.

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*Please help if you can by donating in Rebecca’s memory to Sands, Stillbirth And Neonatal Death Charity HERE

Text JustGiving FREE – RFLO50 to 70070 with your amount £1, £2, £3, £4, £5 or £10.

 

41 thoughts on “Rebecca’s story

  1. I’m truly sorry for your loss. I lost my baby one month ago at 39 weeks, the day after an ecv. I am yet to see the post mortem results but I feel certain that it was caused by the ecv. We were monitored for a few hours then sent home. She was born two days later, she was perfect, placenta and cord were within normal parameters, so I will wait and see. I am full of regret that I was so adament that she should turn, I just wanted her to have the best chance possible to be born naturally. I was not informed of any great risk, same as you, just that there were small cord or placenta risks that they would see as they were doing it and would do a c section if she became distressed. I can only think that the doctors applied too much pressure to her head, she was stuck up in my ribs and they used a lot of force to move her. Devastated doesn’t even really describe how I feel. You’re the first person I’ve read who has such a similar situation, most others I’ve seen were due to placenta abruption from ecv.

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    • Oh Charlotte my heart aches reading this. I am so sorry. What is your little girls name? To know your little girl passed away the ECV shocks and saddens me. I do hope it is not to blame so you do not have the same feelings as me. I still feel so overwhelmed and guilty.
      Please do not hesitate to email me if you would like to talk privately.

      I really am so sorry to hear this.
      My thoughts are with you x

      Natasha x
      cowlingnatasha@yahoo.co.uk

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  2. Pingback: Living In Hope, Coping Through Fear. | justiceforrebeccaflorence

  3. I’m so so so sorry for your loss heartbreaking thank you for sharing this story it has helped me to make my decision my baby is breech too I’m 36 weeks with my 3rd baby an they won’t to turn her but after reading this I’m not going to let them do it so thank you for your help and I hope other mothers do there resurch when it comes to there baby’s welfare I’m glad I did my thoughts an prayers are with you and your family xx an iv shared your story on Facebook to help other mums

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  4. So very brave and admirable for you to share your story by creating awareness for others. Very selfless, I hope sharing has brought you a bit of comfort too even though there is nothing that can take away the pain of what happened. Rebecca would be proud to have such a wonderful mother in her corner.

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    • Thank you so much Cara. You’re right nothing will help the pain but knowing that by sharing Rebecca with the world there may be a chance in other parents not sharing the same pain.
      Thank you for your comment and for reading x

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  5. Dear Natasha and Rebecca’s Dad,

    We are so sorry to hear of the unesseccary loss of your daughter, Rebecca. We hope that time and love will help you heal and live again. We related to your story because our first son was breech. We found out when I was in labour and fully dilated. I delivered him naturally. The incompetence of the staff throughout and other factors relating to the breech birth left me tramatised. I didn’t come to terms with it all until a couple of years down the line with some professional help. But we have our son with us and I cry now that you do not have your daughter. I have signed and shared your petition. We send you and your husband big hugs. Your campaign is already educating and informing families decision’s which is wonderful. Thank you. Xx

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    • Thank you so much for your comment Helen.
      I’m so sorry to hear you didn’t have a food experience during the birth of your son. I really so wish medical staff were more educated and realise that their actions not only affect us at that moment but they we carry the trauma with us for years.
      Until the day I am with Rebecca I will carry such guilt and hatred towards the 3rd March 2015. All because of one medical ‘professional’
      Thank you again for taking your time to read my darling daughters story.
      Warmest regards,
      Natasha and Ben x

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  6. Hello I couldn’t leave without saying sorry for your loss. I do have to admit that the information about ECV is not enough. My third daughter was also breeched they told me about ECV but I refused because my second daughter came out with her cord around her neck so I didn’t want to try it. So we tired moxibustion and that worked but she turned back so after that we left her alone. However lucky for me she turned during labour and came out head first in her caul. Again I am very sorry but I am great full to you that you are rising awareness despite your pain bless you.

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  7. I searched ECV after I read today that Kim Kardashian got one….the media coverage on that procedure will be exploding now and how many mothers are going to take it as an alternative to C section? I’m sharing your post! this needs to be highlighted!! the statistics are 1 in 200 babies require emergency c section after the procedure, that says something is not right with the procedure..

    Thanks you for sharing your story.

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  8. So sorry to hear about your little Rebecca. I had an ECV with my first son at 37 weeks (2012) as he was breech but had only just found out. The info they gave us did not say there was any chance of a haemorrage, only of the cord getting round babys neck but that was rare & if it did happen I would be sent down for emergency csec. Had I known that I would never have had it! I had 2 female drs pushing on my stomach & it was agony, they tried for quite a while but he flipped back twice. I cried through the whole thing & they were assuring me that although it was painful for me it wasnt for him, in the end I told them to stop, they tried to convince me to carry on but I refused. I was monitored for an hour & sent home. My waters broke a week later,& a week earlier than they were supposed to, which ended up as an emergency csec, but all was ok with baby. My second child was also breech but we said no to ecv & had planned csec instead. I hope the pain starts to heal, i can only imagine it, thoughts are with you x

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  9. I was in tears reading your moving story in take a break! I had to have an ecv when i was pregnant with my son now 4yrs old! Iv never been thru so much pain in my life i had to tell doctors to stop as it hurt so much plus he didnt turn anyway so i had to have a cesarian. I never thought something so terrible could happen while having an ecv, i got told that my baby could get stressed that was all they didnt warn me of anything else. Im so sorry for your loss im heartbroken for you and your family. Much love sarah

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  10. Your strength and passion is admirable and Rebecca would no doubt be so proud. What you have gone through (going through) is simply unimaginable – your desire to help others from such a horrendous experience is truly remarkable. I will be signing the petition and sharing your blog. Sending much love to you, your family and beautiful Rebecca xxx

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  11. Im so so sorry my heart is breaking for you. How you got the strengh to write this blog i will never no. But your darling daughter will live on forever.x

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  12. Such an emotional and cruel journey you and your family have been on. Life is so unfair sometimes. Rebecca must be so proud of you for your hard work and dedication, truly inspiring and courageous.
    I empathise with you in so many ways and reading your blog made me want to continue mine so thank you.
    Good luck with the petition, all the best xxxx

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  13. This is such a sad and all too familiar story. Our son, Lentil, died during delivery in June. We didn’t have ECV and haven’t had the post mortem results yet but he died just a few hours before I gave birth to him. There are so many ‘what ifs’ and wonderings of why and how. I know exactly what you mean when you say that the sounds you made that day haunt you. I’m exactly the same. Lentil was born at 38+4, there were no signs that he was in distress until his heart rate suddenly dropped. You just don’t realise that stillbirth is something that still happens. It’s brilliant that you’re raising awareness of this. Anything that can save another baby is worth doing. Xxx

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  14. So sad; I can’t even imagine the pain, the horror, the agony. Thanks for sharing and seeking to change things so that others don’t have a similar experience. I will be sharing and signing your petition, and hoping the guideliness and procedure changes. MatExp is a movement worth checking out; they have a website and a Facebook page. #blogbounce

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  15. I am so sorry to read your heartbreaking story (via mumsnet) and I’m so sorry for your great loss. I lost by second daughter 4 years ago at a week old in traumatic circumstances where the doctors just got it wrong, and I have to live everyday knowing that she probably would still be with us if I’d had better care. I have not been as brave as you and have shied away from blame and investigation and I haven’t even been in contact with sands, I feel like I couldn’t handle the emotion and pain. I hope that you raise awareness of your cause and that in some way you have some comfort from this. I can only tell you from my own experience that over the months and years your anger and traumatic memories will fade and you will gain some level of acceptance of everything that happened to you and your family. You will become used to the pain that niggles at your heart everyday and inspite of that pain you will be happy again. Indeed your happy moments will be happier than ever. I hope you don’t mind me sharing my experiences, it brings me some comfort to reflect. I am so very very sorry for what you are going through. You are in my thoughts.

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  16. Feel like an emotional reck after readying your amazing heart felt touching story. I feel so sorry for your loose and all you have been though. Its inspiring tho as i am sure i could not cope or put your experience to good with all your compaining for awareness and fund raising.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. My baby was stillborn with inconclusive results so my thoughts are with you. If you have been through this then you can fully understand the anguish and resentment that follows a stillbirth so many emotions.

    Mine was nine years ago and has led me to push for the career I truly want. This September I start my midwifery training and am hoping to make a difference to people’s lives.

    Stay strong and keep campaigning you are a true inspiration for mothers. With your help this could be prevented from happening to others.

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  18. I am so sad to hear of your story. My son, also my third baby, was thought to be head down but we discovered well into the Labour that he was breech. I was fortunate that that night a wonderful Doctor (trained abroad) was on duty that night and with his experience of breech deliveries he safely and confidently delivered my healthy son. I feel very lucky that I never had to make any difficult decisions and that that Doctor was on duty that night. We need more medical education on natural breech deliveries in this country.

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  19. I am so horribly sorry to hear your story. Rebecca is gorgeous. My sister recently turned down ECV and had a c-section with my niece so very close to home. I will definitely follow and support your campaign.

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  20. My love and condolences to you and your family for this tragic outcome, I will support you in your campaign. Have you thought of starting a petition on something like 38 Degree’s, as this is a great way of raising very real issues to MPs consciousness as well as the public?

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  21. I also was moved to tears by your story and the calm and beautiful way you have written it – I think you’re very brave to share it rather than keeping it pent up inside – this way you might be able to help other families make a more informed choice. I think I would have opted for the same thing in the same circumstances – we do our best to make the right decisions for our children, but sometimes life takes things out of our hands. I would support any action you decided to take as, I’m sure, would many many other mothers. To make something positive come out of such a loss is testament to your capacity to love.

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  22. I’m so sorry for your loss. Rebecca is beautiful. No words can ever be enough. My own child was breech and back to back and the hospital only found out on giving birth, we very nearly lost her. I can’t even begin to imagine your pain. Xx

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  23. I am so so sorry for your loss there are literally no words 😦
    Thank you for finding the strength thro your terrible pain and grief to warn other mums to be of this.

    Sending you love xx

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  24. What an absolutely heart-breaking story. I am so so sorry for your tragic loss. I wish I could offer words of comfort. Well done for being so brave and sharing your story. You are very strong to do that and I am sure that strength will help you somehow to deal with this unbelievable tragedy. My thoughts are with you and your family. Clare Cowland (Nicola Cliffe’s friend) x

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  25. I’m so sorry for your loss. I cannot imagine what your going through not even for a second. I hope you get justice I know it won’t bring your little Rebecca back but I hope you get the justice you deserve. I will back you in any way that I can thank you so much for sharing this story with us all to make us all aware of the dangers and the decisions that we are unaware of. Your daughter will live on in what you are doing and in your hearts and thoughts forever. Thank you and bless you all. Xx

    Liked by 1 person

  26. I am so sorry for your loss I can not imagine what you are going through. Sat in tears reading your blog my heart goes out to you and your family. Your amazing to be sharing this heartbreaking story to make people aware and to get changes xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Natasha. Yet again your words strike such a chord with me. I hope you fight this all the way. I am behind you and will support you all the way. Big hugs xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  28. I’m so sorry for the loss of your beautiful daughter and really admire you for speaking out to make people aware of her story. I’m a mum and had never heard of ECV never mind the risks so I will follow your campaign and I hope you get the justice you and your wee girl deserve xx

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  29. Natasha you were an amazing mummy to Rebecca, even if it was for such a short while. You are still an amazing mummy, not just for Rebecca but all your children. I will of course sign your petition when it is available.
    I cannot imagine the pain you are going through, to know that Rebecca died in such tragic circumstances must be horrific. This is such a brave way to fight for her, and I think you’re incredible. I’m sure so many parents to be will be so thankful for this campaign. I wish you every success with your petition and hope that these risks receive the awareness they deserve. I salute you, Rebecca would be so incredibly proud of you, as I’m sure the rest of your family are. Much love, Adèle xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  30. What a heartbreaking story I am so sorry for your loss. Being 23 weeks pregnant myself this just highlights the dangers that I am unaware off. I will follow your campaign and I hope you get the justice you deserve. X

    Liked by 1 person

  31. I cannot put into words the admiration I have for you for having summoned the strength to share Rebecca’s story. I will actively follow and aid your campaign where I can. Such a beautiful baby girl deserves nothing less than worldwide recognition and I have no doubt that her memory will live on in the lives of families who are faced with these decisions in the future. My heart is broken for such a tragic loss of your beautiful daughter xx

    Liked by 1 person

  32. What can I say… Your story is truly heartbreaking and I feel your pain. Rebecca was beautiful! With all you are doing to warn others and change antenatal procedures, her tragic death won’t be in vain. Thank you for what you are doing.

    It is a fact that energy doesn’t stop – it just changes form. I do believe that Rebecca lives on and will always be with you – just in a different form. God bless you, Rebecca and your family. Lots of love, Louise xx

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Such an utterly heartbreaking story. I’ve followed your story on PAIL (Clarison here) & am so sorry that this happened to your beautiful daughter. I’ll actively follow your campaign x

    Liked by 1 person

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