My name is Emily, I’m a midwife and have been looking after mum’s and babies for the past 10 years. In 2019, I had my first son and in 2021 we welcomed our second son, Harry. Becoming a mum has changed me in so many ways but since my experience with Harry, I can describe first hand the importance of monitoring baby’s movements…

Just before I fell pregnant with Harry, I had COVID-19 and had a seizure as a result. Due to this, I was under an epilepsy consultant during my pregnancy and we made plans to put me on medication when in Labour. Apart from this, everything was really straightforward and I loved my pregnancy. I had less time to relax as I was running around after my 2 year old whilst my husband worked away - but it was lovely growing our new addition.

When I was around 32 weeks, I was really uncomfortable, I was still working at the time and colleagues kept stopping me to ask if I was okay as a was constantly huffing and puffing with Braxton hicks, especially at night. I never had these with my first baby so it was a new sensation for me. I considered a UTI and got checked over at the maternity assessment unit. Everything was fine. I was 2-3cm dilated but as there was length to my cervix we decided it was probably like that as it was my second pregnancy.

For the next 10 days, I took paracetemol for the braxton hicks at night time and they would settle. I carried on as usual and waddled about after my toddler. When I was 33+5, I didn’t feel right. My toddler was in nursery that day and I went to do the food shop in the morning. I had my lunch and tried a sugary drink but by around 2pm I decided to attend the maternity assessment unit. My baby wasn’t moving right. His movements weren’t as frequent as usual. If I poked my belly he would roll over but he felt almost sluggish in comparison to his usual lively kicks. I’d never had anything like that before and I was so scared.

When I got there, it was super busy but I was triaged straight away and baby’s heartbeat was fine. When I was taken through to be assessed, I told the midwife (my colleague and friend) ‘something doesn’t feel right and I don’t know what it is’. I was checked over, baby was monitored and my cervix was checked again (I was still 2-3cm). We arranged a growth scan asap and I was discharged home but with the understanding that I come straight back if I have any worries. The midwife took me so seriously and really listened to my concerns.

I went home and barely ate, I just felt funny and not right. I went to bed and snuggled up with my toddler. At 9pm (like clockwork) the braxton hicks started like they usually did. I took 2 paracetemol and fell asleep. 1 hour later, I woke up startled and quickly realised my waters had gone…

We gathered our bags and went straight to the hospital. Baby was monitored on the CTG and his heart rate was okay. I was given steroids, started on antibiotics and the plan was for me to stay in hospital and monitor for at least 48 hrs.

The next day, my baby still wasn’t moving right. We monitored him twice a day and scans revealed his growth had reduced significantly. He also only had 2 small movements on the scan and there was no liquor left that could be measured. He had further CTGs following this and his heart rate was having decelerations. A discussion between myself, my husband, the consultant and the midwives led to the plan that I would be induced as soon as there was space on the neonatal unit. The midwives monitored us closely in the meantime.

That night, the braxton hicks started like they always would and the midwife put me on the monitor to check on our little one. He wasn’t coping the best. His heart rate wasn’t very reactive and was having decelerations so they made arrangements for me to go to delivery suite.

Baby’s heartbeat improved when we got to delivery suite, so we started an induction with the drip. After 7 minutes on the drip I was contracting like crazy and said I needed to push. My husband thought I was joking!

Our Harry was born super quickly at 0236 on 12/12/21 weighing 4lb 12oz. My birth was incredible, I loved every single bit of it - I would do it again tomorrow in a heartbeat. My husband and midwife were amazing and I couldn’t have done it without them by my side.

Harry was really well after birth. He fed straight away and I gave him some colostrum I’d expressed that day (I was really lucky to have a good milk supply as I was still breastfeeding my toddler too). His blood sugars were discontinued quickly and we were moved to transitional care to be supported my the NICU nurses.

12 hours after birth, Harry became very jaundiced and as a result was started on phototherapy and antibiotics. He had so many tests and bloods because he was early, but throughout it all, he stayed with me in TC and didn’t require NICU admission. His feeding was amazing and he only lost 1.9% of his birth weight initially.

After what felt like the longest 7 days in TC, we were discharged home in time for Christmas. We were home as our family of four. Since coming home, Harry has come on leaps and bounds. He’s now 13 weeks and weighs 9lb 10oz - I’m so proud of him.

As a midwife, I’ve seen both happiness and unfortunately great sadness in my career. I know that my story could have ended so differently. It is SO important to listen to your instincts and pay attention to your baby.

I would like to thank my amazing colleagues and friends at Liverpool Womens NHS Foundation Trust for taking such good care of us throughout Harry’s pregnancy, birth and postnatal period. We are so so grateful and will never forget the amazing care,compassion and kindness shown to us throughout this experience.