Vicki's first daughter, Evie, was stillborn on 18th June 2015. Telling us her story, she encourages other families to ditch their home dopplers.

When my husband and I found out we were having a baby, we were over the moon. I fell pregnant much quicker than we’d anticipated, so we were a little surprised. I loved being pregnant and had a "textbook" pregnant with just a few symptoms.

I’d used a home Doppler a handful of times throughout my third trimester, we loved being able to listen to her heartbeat for as long as we wanted. I didn’t do it for reassurance at first, it was purely for fun and to feel even closer to her.

When I started to near 40 weeks my midwife gave me a sweep - she knew how keen I was for Evie to be born. Evie had also been head down and fully engaged for well over 4 weeks, we felt ready. I had a routine midwife appointment on the Tuesday and Evie was still sitting perfectly. My midwife was surprised I hadn’t gone into labour yet, but wasn’t worried, so she gave me another sweep to help things along. By this point, I was 40+6 and had my induction booked for 5 days later. I was so excited that we’d be meeting our baby soon.

I woke up in the early hours of Thursday morning and didn’t feel right. I felt unsettled, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was wrong. I soon realised that Evie’s movements had changed and, as it was 3am, I got my doppler and tried to listen for her heartbeat.

The doppler gave me something to hold on to, I was convinced I could hear her heartbeat so after quite some time I went back to bed, still not feeling right but telling myself she was fine.

That morning, I told my husband she wasn’t moving as much but I was sure she would after I’d had some breakfast. I sent him to work (50 miles away) but I still wasn’t feeling any movement, even after eating. I kept reminding myself that I’d heard her on the doppler, so she must be fine. I waited a while but finally decided to call the labour ward and they told me to come in.

After arriving at the hospital alone I was seen by a midwife who tried to listen for Evie's heartbeat but found nothing. I called my husband and told him to come to the hospital straight away. I was taken to a room to have a scan and they didn’t find her heartbeat. My baby girl had died.

They had to do two further scans to be sure, but I knew what they’d find. I looked at the screen and saw the chambers of her heart were still, there was no life. After my husband arrived we were given the option to go home for labour to start, but I opted to be induced. I couldn’t fathom going home knowing my baby had died. I didn’t feel right to walk over the threshold like that.

After Evie was born we were so lucky to be able to spend 3 days with her and I am ever grateful to the staff at the Royal Berkshire Hospital who cared for us so deeply and compassionately.

We were incredibly lucky to fall pregnant again, but this time I didn’t go anywhere near a doppler. I actively warned others against them. If I'd known how misleading they are I might have acted differently and gone to the hospital sooner. My daughter might still be alive.

No matter how silly or how much of an inconvenience you might feel, you most certainly are not. A midwife would rather see you 100 times and reassure you properly, than for you to worry or use a home doppler and not know what you’re listening for.

Learn your baby’s routine of movement and trust your gut. If you're ever in doubt be checked straight away, never wait. I'll wish that I didn't use my doppler for the rest of my life.

Vicki McNelly

(The professional pictures were taken by Allison from Remember My Baby)

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